Saturday saw just seven games survivie in the whole of the NWCFL with this rather wet winter ruining this period of the Football season. One of those games to survive was that of 1874 Northwich v Atherton Collieries, with strong winds enabling the pitch at the Barnton Stadium to be bone dry come 15:00. With a lack of games recently, Clegg fielded the strongest possible side he could as fitness started to become the most important thing. As mentioned earlier, the strong winds dictated play yesterday, with both sides having to adapt their style of football to suit the horrendous conditions. At times it felt as if we were at a Disco and not a Football Match as the floodlights at Winsford couldn’t help but bob up and down. The Collieries started the game the brighter of the two sides, as they opened play up on six minutes. Jake Kenny played a superb diagonal ball forward from his right back position to fellow teammate and forward Jordan Cover. The pacey striker chested the ball down and took it past the dazed 1874 defenders. However, He couldn’t capitalise on this fine chance as he lobbed the ball well over the bar from the edge if the box. Five minutes later and Northwich were on the offensive. Gareth Peet was forced to block Paul Connor’s shot inside of the area. The first goal of the game came on 13 minutes and in favour of Atherton. The ball was played long up to Captain Mark Battersby. The relentless forward latched onto it and travelled further deep into the 1874 area. He squared the ball across the face of goal only for an unfortunate Northwich defender to get it caught between his feet and then see it agonisingly trickle over the line. On 24 minutes the Collieries could have made it two. Ben Hardcastle collected the ball on the right wing before he passed it to Battersby in the center of the area. The normally prolific striker placed his rather tame shot on goal for Matthew Conkie to turn behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Brad Cooke curled the ball well over. With 27 minutes gone, Northwich got their equaliser. After the Colls rearguard failed to clear the ball after what appeared to be a rather simple attack, Michael Brandon poked past Danny Taberner to bring 1874 back into the game. A bad goal to give away in what was 1974s first meaningful attack. A stray effort from Josh Messer was witnessed before Northwich found themselves with a corner. From said corner, the goal scorer, Brandon, has his bulleted header bounced off the line by Mark Ayres who covered the all important near post. Minutes before the interval, the Colls had a penalty. Battersby was fouled in the very top right hand corner of the box. The penalty spot professional dusted himself down to send the keeper the wrong way and Atherton ahead at the break. Half Time – 1874 Northwich 1-2 Atherton Collieries Second half and the wind remained the same which caused havoc for both sides but arguably, the Collieries adapted better to the conditions. On 65 minutes Hardcastle had a superb opportunity to increase the lead. Battersby was clear up front and decided to direct his run down the left flank. He unselfishly passed to Harcastle whose rasping effort was miraculously cleared off the line by a well positioned defender. This period the game was dictated by the weather with both sides struggling to string more than three passes together. Northwich had a number of chances, most notably ,following a string of corners, a bullet header which Taberner was relieved to see narrowly clear the crossbar. With ten minutes to go, Mark Truffas found himself with free kick on the edge of the area. The steak piece specialist was in a fine position as he curled the ball over the wall and towards the top corner. However, Conkie did well to get across and get a strong hand to the ball. An excellent effort and even better save. With seconds left on the clock, it was indeed 3-1 to Atherton. After the received the ball in their own area, Hardcastle and Kenny ran the length of the pitch side by side as they instigated a counter attack. On the half way line, Hardcastle played the ball onwards to Kenny who continued down the right wing before he cut inside and passed onto Battersby. It was a simple pass and move style attack as Battersby teed up Kenny who had now advanced into the Northwich danger zone. He showed great poise to shoot past Conkie and into the back of the net to cap a fine Collieries move and individual effort. The goal sparked pandemonium as the players ran towards their equally jubilant supporters and celebrated in style. Full Time – 1874 Northwich 1-3 Atherton Collieries
A first ever win against the league leaders and what a shift the lads up in especially in the second half playing against a fearsome wind. A proud day for the club.
Report - Zach Pierce