Report: AFC Monton 1-5 Colls

Atherton Collieries rounded off their pre-season campaign with a trip to Manchester League Premier Division side AFC Monton. Their New Alder Park home was a hive of activity as numerous matches and training sessions took place next to the pitch where Colls match took place. A brand new clubhouse and changing room building provided great facilities to for the 30 or so travelling fans who made the short journey to Winton. There were debuts for goalkeeper Ashley Firth, who had been playing for FC United against Rochdale just three days beforehand. Joining him was right back Jamie Forbes who had signed for Evo-Stik Premier Division side Ashton United from Radcliffe Borough over the summer.  The overhead power lines which straddle the neighbouring M60 passed over the top of the penalty area at the clubhouse end of the ground. We wondered what would happen if a lobbed effort came off one of the lines and deflected into the goal. Were there contingency plans for such an event? Thankfully we never had this problem, as both teams played neat passing football on the floor throughout the match. There were times when Monton enjoyed prolonged periods of possession, showing that they will be a decent side in the Manchester League once again this campaign. In their old red kit, Collieries opened the scoring with their first attempt of the match on three minutes. Mike Itela picked the ball up deep on the right hand side and squared the ball across the floor to Mark Battersby. The striker finished into a practically empty net as the goalkeeper tried to cut the cross out at the near post.  Fortunately for all involved, this match didn't turn into a rout and Monton took the game to the visitors. The home side looked dangerous down the right hand side thanks to a pacy winger who Chris Pauley had to work hard to deal with. Collieries' coaching staff were keen to stress that their players should be pressing their opponents when they weren't in possession and this approach ultimately led to an abundance of chances. Itela was fed through on a few occasions, only to see the linesman's flag waving for offside almost every time. Mark Truffas was allowed a lot of freedom down the left hand side and the match started to become more stretched as the half wore on. On 39 minutes, the Monton backline was breached twice in less than a minute to make the scoreline 3-0.  The first goal saw Mark Battersby play the ball through to Mike Itela who on this occasion managed to beat the offside trap. Monton's high backline were unable to track back and catch up with the pacy forward. Baring down on goal, Itela slotted the ball neatly into the bottom left hand corner with the outside of his foot. That was his second goal in as many matches over the summer. Collieries regained possession straight from the restart and this time it was Battersby who was set free in an almost identical move. This time however, the striker opted to take the ball slightly wider and hit the ball across the face of the goalkeeper. Despite getting a strong hand to the shot, the pace took it bobbling into the right hand corner.  A bizarre moment arrived four minutes before the interval when a Monton defender attempted to clear the ball. He was stood around a metre from his own net, which had been vacated by the goalkeeper who had tried to deal with a previous shot. Battersby was on the defenders back, and with no other option than to try and kick the ball out for a corner kick, the defender hoofed it and miscued the ball against the post and away from danger. It could have been one of the most comical own goals of the year. He meant it though, of course. There were no changes for Colls during the interval. Tom Scott, who featured in the second half at Daisy Hill replaced James 'the tank' Brooks early in the second half and Jordan Cover replaced Mike Itela at the front. Dave Sherlock also came on for Kris Holt who had worked hard in the centre with Josh Messer. Within seconds of the changes, Collieries added to their advantage thanks to a Gareth Peet cross. The winger is slowly but surely getting back into his rhythm as the season approaches and he caused Monton a lot of problems down the left hand side. On 58 minutes he took on the right back and crossed towards the back post where a stretching defender prodded the ball past his own goalkeeper. The hosts then had a number of efforts on goal but all were dealt with by Firth who looked comfortable and commanding in his role as Collieries custodian. A fine effort did produce a goal for Monton on 73 minutes when a lobbed effort from the angle of the penalty area flew into the top corner past Firth. Scoring was rounded off on 82 minutes when Jordan Cover was played through down the right hand side. He cut inside and unleashed a stinging shot towards goal, which was parried by the goalkeeper. Cover was first to the rebound, just beating the goalkeeper to it. He chipped the ball delicately over his opponent, generating just enough backspin on it to make sure it didn't fly out of play. He then side stepped and was able to pass the ball into an empty net. Quite simply a classy finish from a player who is brimming with confidence and currently enjoying a fantastic run of form.  Collieries next match is on Saturday when they welcome Bacup Borough to the Kensite Stadium in the opening round of The FA Cup. Kick off is at 15:00. Bring your tin foil trophies and enjoy the best cup competition in the world.  Atherton Collieries: Ashley Firth, Jamie Forbes, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, James Brooks, Chris Pauley, Lukasz Malkowski, Kris Holt, Mike Itela, Mark Battersby, Mark Truffas - Substitutions: Jordan Cover, Tom Scott, Dave Sherlock, Jake Kenny, Matt Grimshaw, Brad Cooke, Danny Lafferty Attendance: 63 Match report by Joseph Gibbons    

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