Atherton Collieries recorded a 2-0 home win over Bamber Bridge thanks to first-half goals from Jack Lenehan and Danny Lafferty.
A goalkeeping error gifted Colls an early lead before captain Danny Lafferty doubled their advantage with a clever finish before the break to give the home side their second win of 2022.
Both sides came into the game desperate for a victory, the Collieries having picked up just two points from five games, suffering a frustrating defeat to Hyde three days earlier.
The game got off to a lively start, Bridge’s Jake Thompson firing wide before Ethan Kershaw was denied the opener at the other end, courtesy of a strong save from Matt Hudson. However it was a goalkeeping blunder that gifted Colls the opener moments later, Jack Lenehan’s looping cross fumbled over the line by the Bridge keeper in bizarre fashion.
The visitors’ Craig Carney went close not long after with a dipping effort that narrowly cleared Danny Taberner’s crossbar, before Marcus Cusani rounded the keeper at the other end, his off-balance finish skewing wide of the target. The forward was unlucky not to score on the half hour mark, his shot blocked off the line by a frantic Bridge defence.
Colls second goal would come as the result of a corner, Cusani’s well-struck volley from the edge of the area looked destined for the far corner, only to be helped over the line by Danny Lafferty’s back-heel finish - a wonderful bit of improvisation from the Colls skipper.
There was controversy before the break, as Bridge captain McCauley Wilson was perhaps lucky to escape a red card for a vicious elbow on Colls’ Danny Lambert - the first in a series of industrial challenges as both sides battled it out in midfield.
The second half saw clear-cut chances few and far between, the ball falling to Gaz Peet at the back post on the hour mark but his half-volley was sliced wide. Bridge looked to breach Colls with a barrage of long balls into the box but the home sides’ centre back trio were unbeatable in the air all evening.
With ten minutes to go, Zack Clarke had a golden opportunity to put the game beyond reach after a slick passing move with Marcus Cusani saw him through one-on-one, only to be denied by the legs of a sprawling Matt Hudson. Ultimately, Colls were always comfortable in the second half and the final whistle signalled a deserved win for the black and whites.
Colls: Danny Taberner, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Scott Sephton, Danny Lafferty ©, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Danny Lambert, Marcus Cusani (Zack Clarke 80’), Jack Lenehan and Aaron Smith (Matty Gillam 77’)
Unused subs: Dec Daniels
Man of the Match: Jack Lenehan (sponsored in memory of Frank Clayton)
Report: Danny Brown
Photo: Dave Featherstone