Report: Atherton Collieries 1-1 Barnoldswick Town

Early league leaders Barnoldswick Town were the visitors to downtown 'Bent on Monday evening. They had won five consecutive matches before losing 1-0 at Nelson on Friday night. For Collieries it was very much a case of going back to basics following Saturday's disappointing defeat to Bootle.  Part of going back to basics saw Gareth Peet start at left back, a position which he occupied when he originally arrived at Alder House in 2010. Keith Wedge occupied the right back spot while Matt Grimshaw and Mark Ayres completed the back four which looked the most organised it has this season. James Moore was pushed into midfield and performed well alongside Josh Messer.  Except for the odd chance from Barnoldswick, Collieries dominated the match from start to finish and can count themselves desperately unlucky not to claim all three points. Ultimately, Colls were made to pay for the chances they missed when a dubious penalty was awarded to the visitors deep into stoppage time. Mark Truffas gave the Barnoldswick defenders a torrid time all evening. After just four minutes he hurdled three challenges before being brought down on the edge of the area. He dusted himself off and lined up the free kick. Unfortunately, for both parties the ball slammed into a defenders nethers. The fluid, attacking football that was played last season looked to have returned. Gareth Peet appeared to be in his element at left back and his hard work saw Colls come close to opening the scoring. He picked the ball up at the back and played the ball down the line to Kristian Holt. A quick one-two saw Peet surge down the line before flashing the ball across the face of goal. Deservedly the home side took the lead on 16 minutes following more fantastic play in the midfield. The ball was spread out wide to Ben Hardcastle who beat the Barnoldswick left back. Firing in a low effort, goalkeeper Jordan Gidley spilled Hardcastle's effort into the path of Mark Truffas who tapped into an open net from close range. Less than two minutes after Collieries had opened the scoring they were guilty of momentarily falling asleep at the back. A cross came in from the left hand side and found John Beckwith who had time and space to steady himself for an attempt on goal. On the half volley he fired the ball into the ground and it bounced just wide of the left hand post. It was now end to end as the home side looked the double their advantage. Less than a minute after Beckwith had missed, Kristian Holt fired marginally wide from the edge of the box after he had been set up by Mark Battersby. More chances came and went for Atherton before they were rightly applauded off at half time. The second half saw Collieries attacking towards the changing room end. Barnoldswick immediately went on the attack from the kick off but it was comfortably dealt with by the Atherton defence. On 51 minutes Mark Truffas won a free kick on the left hand side of the penalty area. Gareth Peet made an overlapping run and the ball was passed towards the byline for the defender. He angled the ball across the face of goal where nobody was able to apply the final touch that would have taken it over the line. Barnoldswick had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them in the match when on three occasions he denied Collieries when they were one-on-one. The first occasion saw Mark Battersby received the ball and play a delicate pass through to Ben Hardcastle. The right winger outpaced his marker and carried on bombing forward but saw his angle tightened by an oncoming Gidley. The second occasion saw Kristian Holt break free of the Barnoldswick defence. He had more time and space than Hardcastle, but once again Gidley pulled off a wonder save to keep the scoreline at 1-0. For good measure he even booted the ball over the clubhouse and into the cattery next door. We were now facing a ball shortage; a true emergency. Collieries carried on trying to score the goal that would seal the three points and should have been awarded a penalty with ten minutes to go. The ball was crossed into Mark Battersby who was barged from behind by a Barnoldswick defender. The referee made a mistake in not pointing to the spot. To add insult to injury Barnoldswick were awarded a dubious penalty deep into stoppage time. Nobody in the ground was quite sure what it was awarded for, but Mark Threlfall took responsibility and scored from the spot. Moments later the referee blew the final whistle. A highly disappointing end to the match. Collieries would have been out of sight had they taken their chances but were made to pay. Despite this, many positives can be taken from the match. We performed very well against the league leaders, were organised at the back, competitive in midfield and had no shortage of chances in attack. Michael Clegg's side can go into Saturday's match at second placed Runcorn Linnets in high spirits. Atherton Collieries - Danny Taberner, Keith Wedge, Gareth Peet, James Moore, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Josh Messer, Mark Battersby, Kristian Holt, Mark Truffas - Substitutes: Sulay Ahmed, Nathan Battersby, Jordan Cover, James Kirby, Matt Boland Barnoldswick Town - Jordan Gidley, Arley Barnes, Jake McEneaney, Shaun Airey, Scott Moore, Liam Britton, John Beckwith, James Crocken, Mark Threlfall, Harry Thompson, Ben Gorman - Substitutes: Jack Hargreaves, Matthew Cavanagh, Mike Hodson, Stewart Airdrie, Chris Ridehalgh Attendance: 134 Man of the match: Mark Battersby   Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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