In their first away league game since mid-October, Colls more than matched their high flying hosts but ultimately lost out to a solitary well taken strike in front of a bumper holiday crowd. Paddy Wharton, Louis Myers and Cain Noble made bows for Brad Cooke’s team in place of Greg Hartley who has joined Michael Clegg in Tameside, Danny Lambert who was not fully fit and Tom Bentham unavailable following his peevish second yellow in the Barrow game.
The weather forecast was bang on again with the rain the star turn. The pitch was playable just as both teams took the less than ideal conditions in their stride. Colls in their favoured yellow change strip had the majority of the possession in the first half but in all honesty Boro keeper Ollie Martin didn’t really have much to do. in a forty-five minutes almost devoid of clear cut opportunities ex- Colls Mon Rick Smith headed wide at the far post when he was in oceans of space while ex-Radcliffe favourite Myers’ effort was deflected narrowly off target with Martin beaten totally.
On 55 mins Martin excellently rebuffed a goal bound Conway effort with his legs and following that John Macken’s side had their best fifteen minutes of the game. Wharton was forced into a couple of good stops before Anton Forrester struck the decisive strike. Colls surrounded the ball cheaply and a pinpoint cross pass enabled the Boro substitute to finish excellently.
The hosts were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when right back Tyrell Warren was given a second caution. Colls were now on the front foot and Clive Smith’s textbook header from a free-kick shaved the woodwork. Gareth Peet was denied a penalty as the Radcliffe defending become more panicked. Deep into injury time Wharton was sent up to join the cavalry as his team forced a few corners which were well repelled. The last kick of the game saw a teasing free-kick played into the Radcliffe six yard area and an unchallenged Peet failed by millimetres to get a tickle on the ball.
Disappointment for the Collieries against one of the title favourites. In the last five or so years the sides have met on a regular basis with nothing between the teams. This is still the case but in the last eighteen months John Macken’s boys seem to have a jinx on their near neighbours.
Next up is a New Year’s Day home date with second placed Lancaster City. Let’s pack the Skuna! Atherton Collieries: Paddy Wharton, Clive Smith, Gareth Peet, John Welsh (Dave Sherlock 89’), Danny Lafferty (C), Ben Conway (Steve Kipre 85’), Cain Noble (Iwan Murray 74’), Louis Myers, Vinny Bailey, Danny O’Brien. Substitutes (not used): Krissy Holt, Danny LambertRama Spice Man of the Match: Louis Myers Attendance: 571