Report: Ashton Athletic 0-0 Atherton Collieries

As one road to Wembley ended on Bank Holiday Monday against Brighouse, another one began yesterday with a trip to neighbours Ashton Athletic for the First Qualifying Round of the FA Vase. A dilapidated Crazy Gang made the journey to Brocstedes Park with a number of fans away watching England play San Marino, despite this there was a good turnout from those in Black and White. Clegg and his management team made only two changes, Gareth Peet was dropped to the bench in place of Mark Truffas and Mark Battersby was not in the squad due to illness. The Collieries had also switched back to a 4-5-1 formation with James Kirby the lone frontman. Former Collieries man Aaron Cringle was on the bench for Ashton also. Both teams never really grew into the game with extra time required after the initial 90 minutes, however, this proved to be surplus as a replay was required with 0-0 the result. The first effort of the game was recorded on the tenth minute, Athletic with the first opportunity of the game. From a Colls’ free kick the ball was thumped away by the Yellow’s defence, on half way the ball was collected by Paul Watson who played a pass to Aaron Morris. The midfield man advanced and eventually threaded the ball through to Matthew Blakeley in the area. The forward then turned his marker and released his shot. However, the weak shot was collected by Taberner with ease. With 25 minutes of the game gone the ball managed to break away from midfield, Nathan Battersby the man who collected on half way. The right back played a superb ball through to Kirby down the wing. Kirby collected and advanced into the box. However, under pressure from the Ashton defence the Colls forward struggled to release his shot and when he did it was straight into the palms of Martin Pearson. A minute later and in a similar effort Ben Hardcastle was denied by Pearson. The winger collected the ball and pelted down the right wing. However, like Kirby’s earlier effort, Pearson collected Hardcastle’s frail shot. The right wing seemed the best access point to Ashton’s danger area for Atherton and on 29 minutes the Collieries had another fine chance to take the lead. Battersby, who had a good game at full back, played the ball down the wing for Hardcastle to run onto. Now inside of the Yellow’s box Hardcastle played the ball across the line, an invite for anyone to tap onto. However, nobody had the chance to prod the ball home. 60 seconds had passed when Athletic nearly took the lead thanks to a fortunate deflection. Pinball in the Colls’ penalty area resulted in a deflection that landed in Adam Gilchrest’s favour. However, due to the fast paced nature of the opportunity Gilchrest reacted with no time to adjust his position which is why his shot travelled wide. On 33 minutes the Yellows were gifted the ball on the left wing of the field, a cross swung into Atherton’s area for Luke Holden to head straight into the palms of Taberner. Five minutes of the half remained when the Collieries began to grow back into the game. 25 yards from goal, Kris Holt’ pile-driver was well saved by Pearson. Half Time – Ashton Athletic 0-0 Atherton Collieries The second half was more of the same, a midfield battle between the two sides with an equal amount of efforts and opportunities to take the lead. In the opening quadrant of the period Ashton’s Ryan Small collected the ball in midfield and advanced towards to the goal. However, the forward’s long range shot sailed over the bar. Clegg had made two changes in an attempt to bring the game to life as he introduced both Gareth Peet and Jordan Cover for Truffas and Kirby respectively. On the 69th minute the Colls had one of their better chances of the game. A deep cross was whipped into the box by Peet, directed across to Hardcastle on the far edge of the area. Hardcastle initially struggled to get a grip of the ball but when the winger did he fired a low and hard shot at goal. Unfortunately, the aforementioned shot was straight at the goal keeper. Good link up play was witnessed by all in an attendance three minutes later. The ball was played to Hardcastle on the right wing. Holt advanced down the field whilst Hardcastle held possession. On the edge of the area, Holt received the pass from Hardcastle but the shot that resulted was blocked well by the Ashton defence. Morris had to be alert on 73 minutes and, he was. The goalkeeper did very well to deny Jordan Cover. Ten minutes remained when the Colls had a good number of half chances from a corner. However, the Athletic defence was there to block and clear any Atherton effort that came their way. Extra time was inevitable. However, both sides had one opportunity each to win the game in the last five minutes. The Yellow’s Callum Mahoney won the ball in midfield and was allowed to run through onto the edge of the Collieries’ area. However, the substitutes’ shot flew well over the bar. A minute later and the Colls found themselves with a corner. The ball was sung deep into the box for Hardcastle to collect; Hardcastle discharged his shot which appeared to be going wide. Substitute Ahmed Sulay confirmed this when, in an attempt to salvage something from the attack, poked his foot at the ball which only sent the ball further wide. Full Time – Ashton Athletic 0-0 Atherton Collieries Atherton were gifted another superb opportunity to take the lead 94 minutes into the game. From a Collieries’ attack the ball landed at the feet of Hardcastle who was free on the far right side of the box. Hardcastle fired the ball at the goal and was only denied by a superb Pearson save. Two minutes later and the Colls attacked again. Peet ran at the Ashton defence at an angle and played the ball across goal. Battersby got the only touch on the low and hard; however, under pressure the defenders shot was wide of the mark. Four minutes of this extra period remained when they Yellow’s Isaac Kusaloka sent his shot well over the bar. Half Time – Extra Time – Ashton Athletic 0-0 Atherton Collieries Again, the Colls had half chances, in which they could have taken the lead, through both Hardcastle and Battersby. However, the highlight of the half was that of a Taberner save in the last minute of the game. The Atherton Goalkeeper did very well to save Kusaloka’s shot that swung round at goal. Full Time – After Extra Time – Ashton Athletic 0-0 Atherton Collieries A game that lacked a spark, both sides had their chances, good chances too but towards the end both also tired. All will have to be done again on tomorrow evening as the two sides come up against each other in the replay. Listen to Manager Michel Clegg’s post-match thoughts by clicking HERE. Atherton Collieries – Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Keith Wedge, Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke ©, James Kirby, Kris Holt and Mark Truffas – Substitutes: Ahmed Sulay, Jordan Cover, Gareth Peet, Jimmy Moore and Andy Heald. Ashton Athletic – Martin Pearson, Louis Edwards, Paul Casey, Ian Rowlands, Luke Holden, Paul Watson, Daniel Regan, Aaron Morris, Adam Gilchrist, Ryan Small and Matthew Blakely – Substitutes: Aaron Cringle. Daniel Smith, Michael Wood, Callum Mahoney and Isaac Kusaloka. Attendance: 134 Match Report by Zach Pierce

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