After a long-awaited return for league football, Atherton Collieries kicked off the Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign with a superb victory away to Hyde United. This was Colls’ first league fixture since October 2020, after the 2020/21 season came to a premature end due to the ongoing pandemic. The fixture that day saw Colls record a convincing 3-0 victory over Stafford Rangers.
Despite the 291 day wait, the overall outcome was the same.
The start of the new season saw Brad Cooke give league debuts to new recruits Luke Hutchinson, Joel Amado, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw and Scott Sephton.
The early exchanges of the game saw the hosts have the majority of possession, but Colls defended resolutely and therefore limited Hyde to very few chances.
Cooke’s men were very much a threat on the counter-attack, with Ben Conway and Elliot Rokka providing the width to support Dylan Glass up top.
Hyde’s threat came from their number 11 of the left wing, seeking to get on the ball at every opportunity and cut inside for a shot on goal. One of these resulted in a Hyde corner which Bolton loanee in the Colls goal, Hutchinson, struggled to clear, resulting in a decent chance for the home side. Luckily, Hutchinson recovered well to stop the resulting attempt.
As the half wore on, Colls started to see a lot more of the ball. Midway through the first half, Gaz Peet created a the best chance of the game for Jack Lenehan, who’s side-footed effort is saved smartly by Joe Green between the sticks for Hyde.
As the referee sounded the whistle for half-time, both teams may have felt they could have been in front. The 0-0 scoreline reflecting the evenness of the contest overall.
Whatever Brad Cooke told the lads during the interval, it certainly worked. Colls started the second half very strongly.
A handful of chances came in quick succession; Rokka stinging the palms of Hyde’s keeper from a tight angle, and Lenehan again providing a late run towards the box and getting a shot away.
Hyde’s only real attempt in the early exchanges of the second half was a thirty-five yard free kick, which was so high and wide it left the stadium.
As the half wore on, the game started to become more even again. Both teams pushing for that elusive goal.
A good chance for the hosts came around the 70th minute, centre half, Tom Morris heading a corner inches over the bar.
It was around 10 minutes later that the game was flipped on it’s head.
Jack Lenehan swings superb free kick into the penalty area, where debutant, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, just guides it past the keeper. Rapturous celebrations from the Colls faithful behind the goal as the ball hit the back of the net.
The closing stages of the match saw Hyde put the pressure on, but Colls defended resolutely through the goal-scorer, Defreitas-Hansen, and Joel Amado.
Colls’ fitness levels were outstanding in the latter stages of the game. To be able to not only withstand the host’s onslaught, but to then carry the ball out and produce some chances on the counter-attack.
As the referee blew the whistle for full time, cheers from the travelling support echoed throughout the ground. A performance well worth the three points on the board on the first day of the season. Colls’ are on home turf for their next fixture, as they welcome Nantwich Town for what promises to be a thrilling encounter. The fixture will take place at the Skuna Stadium on Tuesday 17th August, kick-off 7:45pm. Be sure to follow our social media channels for ticket information. We can’t wait to see you there! Written by: John Holland
Atherton Collieries: Luke Hutchinson, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet (C), Danny Lambert, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Joel Amado, Ben Conway, Scott Sephton, Dylan Glass (Marcus Cusani '68), Jack Lenehan, Elliot Rokka (Ethan Kershaw '84). Subs (unused): Lewis Doyle, Liam Martin, Niall Battersby