Report: AFC Darwen 3-7 Colls

SEVEN IS HEAVEN FOR HIGH FLYING COLLS

AFC Darwen 3 Atherton Collieries 7 (Seven)

By Matt Lawton

Dave Sherlock and Mark Battersby scored a hat trick apiece as Atherton Collieries moved up to second position in the North West Counties League Premier Division, six points behind leaders Runcorn Linnets albeit with three games in hand, extending an unbeaten run league run that stretches as far back as mid-September. On a heavy pitch at the Anchor Ground, Colls went in front on twenty two minutes when Mark Truffas race on to a loose ball and rounded goalkeeper Anthony Windle before rolling the ball home, overcoming the risk of his shot getting stuck in the mud-heaped goalmouth as he did so. Darwen had to wait until the half hour mark before posing their first serious threat on goal when Callum Jones misread a ball forward that seemingly put Paul Coote on a route to goal, only for Jones to recover superbly and nick the ball off Coote’s toe to clear away for a corner. Michael Clegg’s side doubled their lead on thirty four minutes when again Truffas rounded Windle, though this time he was brought down by the goalkeeper, with Mark Battersby tucking away the resultant penalty in Windle’s bottom right hand corner. All three points looked to be in the bag for the visitors as the game ticked towards half time when they went three goals in front. Front man Dave Sherlock did well to hold off ex-Colls centre back Gareth Carson before playing a delightful one two with Mark Battersby that finished with Sherlock tucking the ball in to the bottom corner. After ending the first half on such a high note, Colls began the second half in similar fashion, earning their second penalty of the game within a minute of the restart when Ben Hardcastle was bundled over just inside the penalty area, though this time Mark Battersby failed to punish the home side as his spot kick struck Windle’s left hand post and Hardcastle failed to convert the rebound. The home side pulled a goal back on fifty minutes when the ball fell to skipper Kiel Lonsdale who delivered a rocket of a shot past Danny Taberner in the Colls goal, though the black and whites need only two minutes to restore their three goal advantage when a terrific Mark Battersby pass was met with a first time Sherlock strike that evaded Windle’s desperate dive to nestle in the bottom corner. Coote reduced the arrears back to two goals on sixty six minutes when he lashed the ball in at the back post, but again his side conceded only a minute later when a great ball across the six yard box from Jamal Branker gave Mark Battersby the perfect chance to flick home a wonderful back heeled finish to take the score to 5-2 in Colls’ favour. The glut of goalscoring continued when Darwen pulled it back to 5-3 on seventy one minutes when the ball broke to Patrick O’Brien who struck a wonderful first time effort past Taberner from well outside of the penalty area. A further goal for Darwen would certainly have set the cat amongst the pigeons, but Colls nerves were settled and the points in the bag when again Mark Battersby came up with the assist for Sherlock to volley home his hat trick goal in what was his final act of the game as he came off to rapturous applause to be replaced by James Kirby as he continues his long-awaited return from injury. Having more than played his part in creating goals for his side, Mark Battersby was able to celebrate a hat trick of his own with eight minutes remaining when Josh Messer played a ball over the top to create enough space for Battersby to cut on to his right foot and curl the ball past Windle. The goalscoring feats keep Colls comfortably ahead of the rest of the league in terms of goals scored this season having hit the net sixty nine times in only twenty two games, even taking in to account the fact that some sides have played as many as five league games more so far this season. The next outing for Colls comes this Saturday with a trip to Abbey Hey (13th February, 3pm) before AFC Liverpool are the visitors to Alder House on Monday (15th February, 7.45pm). Atherton Collieries; Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Mark Ayres, Callum Jones, Ben Hardcastle (Jamal Branker), Kristian Holt, Mark Battersby, Dave Sherlock (James Kirby), Mark Truffas (Jacob Jones). Substitutes (not used); Matt Grimshaw

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