Having won the Integro Cup in 2018 at the first time of asking, the competition will always have a place in Colls' fans' hearts. However, their defence of the trophy last season resulted in a first round exit to Droylesden, as all eyes turned to the league. Coming around again, with the game moved forward to Colls’ tradition midweek night of a Monday, the air was thick with expectation as a healthy crowd gathered at the Skuna. In indication of how far the club has developed in recent years. With a combination of injuries and suspensions depleting the Colls’ ranks, with players also needing game time, a very youthful team took to the field, augmented by the newly registered Dougie Nyuapembe following his unfortunate release from Bury and John Connelly who last season played in the colours of Northwich Victoria.
Maybe the exertions of Saturday, playing the final 30 minutes of the game with 10 men, had left legs still drained or maybe we give Cables credit for containing Colls’ attack but the 90 minutes served up very little in the form of free flowing attacking football that we’ve been spoilt by of late. The closest we came to breaking the deadlock was on 18 minutes when George Hassall was given space on the edge of the box and his looping shot cannoned off the top of the Colls’ crossbar, goalkeeper Cheetham watching it all the way.
The game was to erupt on 73 minutes when an extremely late tackle Sean Myler tackle on Brad Lynch caused the Prescot Cables bench to immediately react, the incident occurring in front of the away dugout whilst the ball by this point had reached the main stand, such was the recklessness. A tangle of arms and legs coupled with the reaction caused a red card to be flashed at Lynch whilst instigator Myler bizarrely was issued with a mere yellow.
With that, although Colls had the triple threat of Tom Bentham, man of the match Kieran Feeney and Jordan Cover on the pitch, the game was to go straight to penalties on the final whistle!
Colls going first saw Tom Bentham calmly stroke the ball away, Cheetham unlucky not to get a hand to Matty Hamilton’s effort to level. Vinny Bailey blazing his effort over gave Cables the first advantage. Great penalties from Oli Roberts and Clive Smith saw Chris Cheetham’s time to shine. And shine he did, saving from John Cooper down to his right. The game now level after 4 penalties each meant we effectively went straight to sudden death.
Feeney stepped up to take Colls’ final kick, cooly slotting home to put all the pressure on Cables. And that pressure was to tell on midfielder Sam Harding, recently signed from FC United, his kick finding the netting behind the goal as Colls progress to the Second Round of the Integro League Cup by the narrowest of margins. Atherton Collieries: Chris Cheetham , Niall Battersby, Dougie Nyaupembe, Oli Roberts, Danny Lafferty (Bailey 60’), Clive Smith, Jack Egan (Brad Lynch 45’), Dave Sherlock, Tom Bentham, Kieran Feeney, John Connolly (Cover 63’). Substitutes (not used): Gareth PeetRama Spice Man of the Match: Kieran Feeney Attendance: 192