Report: Abbey Hey 2-1 Colls

A subdued Colls side lost their first NWCFL Premier Division game for exactly five months to a determined Abbey Hey side but the winning goal in second half injury was shrouded in controversy. The starting line up was unchanged from the impressive midweek 7-3 victory at AFC Darwen but the team never got anywhere near that level of performance. In fact the hosts were unlucky not take the lead within minutes of the start. Joanathan Hardy was allowed space and time to shoot from Just outside the box but his shot smashed against the right hand goal post and cannoned to safety. On 15 minutes Kristian Holt was forced to leave the field. He put in an innocuous looking challenge but ended up on the floor writhing in agony. Early indications suggested that he had stretched a ligament in his knee. Jake Kenny replaced him. Colls had started timidly and only a good block by Kenny stopped the rangy Ashford Blake setting up a goal scoring opportunity. Colls finally created a clearcut opening in the 28 minute. Good skill by Dave Sherlock put Mark Trufas clear but his usual stickybob control let him down and the ball rolled to the relieved Abbey Hey keeper Jonathan McILwaine. Abbey continued to have the better of things and missed another couple of opportunities before Callum Jones headed a Truffas free kick over from pointblank range. Within seconds of the restart Josh Messer hit a 25 yard daisycutter which McILwaine did well to hold onto. Two minutes later Abbey took the lead, a deep cross was controlled by James Moss and he smashed the ball past Danny Taberner. This galvanised Colls and they had their best spell of the game which culminated with a 59th minute equaliser. A galloping Gareth Peet was upended by Darren Talbot and from the resultant Sherlock free kick Mark Battersby headed home his 20th goal of the campaign. Usually Colls kick on from these type of situations but despite no lack of endeavour nothing seemed to work out and the game headed towards a stalemate. In injury time a couple of misplaced passes enabled Abbey Hey to get a corner. Moss centred it and he seemed to have fluffed it totally. The ball went well out of play before arrowing back onto the paddock. The players in the box stopped, Taberner didn’t make an attempt to go for the ball and just stood there with his arm raised. George Noon standing at the far post tapped the ball into the net both unchallenged and uninterested. He wheeled away to go back to his position for the goal kick. Then there was the sudden realisation that the assistant referee hadn’t flagged for a goal kick and that the goal would stand. Noon’s jog back to the halfway line became a celebratory sprint and he was soon mobbed by his team mates. The Colls players were beyond furious and surrounded the unfortunate referee who must have known by the reaction that something was amiss but he had to back up his colleague. When calm was restored the game recommenced but there was no time for any more action. The most contentious defeat in decades!! The Colls players left the pitch shell shocked. Their performance wasn’t top notch but upon reflection they deserved a point against industrious and skilful opponents. Michael Clegg spoke to the Abbey Hey gaffer who told him the decisive decision was laughable while the referee conceded that the way the defeat came about would leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Danny Taberner said he could easily have got to the ball but it went so far out of play it didn’t cross his mind to catch it. A lesson to play to the whistle whatever the scenario if ever there was one. The lads need to dust themselves down now and focus on the nineteen remaining league games. There will be may twists and turns before the campaign comes to a close.   Match report by Emil Anderson Photograph by Ian Monk

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