Report: Atherton Collieries 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

After a welcome break, football was back. Atherton Collieries welcomed a youthful Bolton Wanderers side down to Alder House. Neil Lennon took up a position in the away dugout while Jussi Jaaskelainen, who has one of his Bolton shirts hanging in the Colls clubhouse, was also in attendance to watch his son in the second half. Alder House hosted a bumper crowd for this much anticipated game as 1,499 people made the most of the summer sunshine. Fans flocked from all corners of the country while some Bolton fans found themselves embarking on away day at a ground they can see from their bedroom window. A lot of hard work has gone in behind the scenes over the past few weeks and it all paid off. The stage was set and the pitch was in an immaculate condition thanks to Jasper and his ground team. Both teams opted to field a different side in each half. Collieries took it a step further and wore different coloured kits in both half due to Bolton only currently having a white kit at their disposal. Collieries were without striker Jordan Cover and defender James Brooks who both missed the match through injury. Included in the side for the afternoon were summer signings Matt Cross and James Kirby while Ahmed Sulay who was with the U18’s last season was also given a spot. Despite being a young side Bolton Wanderers still boasted experience. Conor Wilkinson played in the Championship for the Wanderers last season before going out on loan to Oldham Athletic where he scored twice in League One. Kaiyne Woolery made five appearances for Notts County last campaign while Jordan Lussey made a number of appearances for Liverpool U21's. The game started off at a slow pace with both sides passing the ball around well. The first chance of note came on 13 minutes; the ball was played through to Ben Hardcastle on the edge of the Bolton area from midfield. The winger collected the ball and advanced towards goal only for Bolton goalkeeper Harry Campbell to intercept and clear away from any danger. Minutes later and Atherton were on the attack once again but only to be thwarted by Campbell for a second time. After a scramble in the Wanderers’ box the ball fell to Gareth Peet who fired his shot towards goal. Campbell did well to sharply get down to his left side and collect the ball. The game was very much a midfield battle, both sides passed the ball with purity and conviction – Bolton held more of the possession but as the game progressed the Colls grew into the game more and more. On 23 minutes, Mark Truffas received the ball on the left side of the field. He collected at his feet and played it across to captain Brad Cooke who fired the ball well over the bar. He may have disturbed a neighbouring garden party with his wayward shot which resulted in the lost ball tally being started for the campaign. A minute later and Bolton responded with an attack of their own. Collieries goalkeeper Danny Taberner had to be alert to deny the visitors from taking the lead. Taberner did well again with half time just a minute away. The ball was played into the box by Bolton’s Rob Holding. Holding curled his cross towards Channing Campbell-Young who directed his shot towards goal. Taberner did well to get across and prevent both Campbell-Young and Bolton. It was Campbell’s turn to be in the limelight seconds later as it was the Collieries turn to attack. Campbell pulled off a superb double save to initially deny Brad Cooke and then Mark Battersby. Half Time – Atherton Collieries 0-0 Bolton Wanderers No sooner had Darren Handley blown the half time whistle, the second half sides were warming up on the pitch. Atherton made nine changes to their initial starting lineup whereas Bolton fielded a completely different XI. Collieries more than matched their opponents in the second half as an entertaining match unfolded. There was a stunned silence on 65 minutes when referee Handley awarded Colls a free kick and proceeded to pull out his canister of magic spray. Collieries had hit the big time. Granted, by the time the Bolton wall had been marched back the spray had vanished, but we will never forget the first time magic spray was used on the hallowed Alder House turf! After all that excitement Boland took responsibility for the free kick. He attempted to perfect the art of getting the ball ‘up and under’ but his shot was fired straight against the Bolton wall. Three minutes later Boland was again involved in another dead ball situation. This time he drilled a corner into the heart of the Bolton box. Matt Cross rose highest to head the ball towards goal but it dropped just centimetres wide of the right hand post. Boland, who captained the side for the second half, had one of his best performances in a Collieries shirt. It was evident to see that he has put a lot of effort in since picking up and injury at the end of last season. His fine form continued when he played the ball into the largely empty box on 76 minutes. Ahmed Sulay found himself unmarked in the box but the fast pace of both his run and the ball caused the youngster to hit the ball just wide of the mark. With both sides having a large number of players fatigue never really crept in, which meant the game was entertaining till the very end. With eight minutes left on the clock, the Wanderers won a penalty after Harry Reilly was fouled by Danny Taberner. Jamie Thomas took the responsibility of the penalty kick and duly dispatched to take Bolton into the lead despite the best efforts of the goalkeeper. Seconds, not minutes, remained when Enock Likoy-Elumba was fouled in the box to gift Bolton the chance of doubling their advantage. He dusted himself down to take the penalty but he spooned it wide of the right hand post. The Collieries took full advantage of this as seconds later they drew level. Forward Wes Bancroft received the ball in the box before he fired into the bottom left hand corner of the goal under Will Jaaskelainen. A very well taken goal, and one which was welcomed by Collieries fans who had never dreamt of celebrating a goal scored against their beloved Bolton Wanderers. Full Time – Atherton Collieries 1-1 Bolton Wanderers The referees whistle signalled the end of what had been a great afternoon for everyone involved with Atherton Collieries. It was a good run out for both sets of lads, a positive game from Atherton Collieries point of view. All that remains to be said is thank you. Thank you firstly to Bolton Wanderers, allowing for this game to happen, but thank you to everyone that turned up and produced a fantastic and friendly atmosphere. Thank you to all the volunteers for pulling together to help make the match go as problem free as possible. The bar staff, stewards, turnstile operators and anybody else who helped in a way, we really do appreciate it. Atherton Collieries – First Half: Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Jake Kenny, Kris Holt, Matt Grimshaw, Gareth Carson, Mark Truffas, Brad Cooke ©, Mark Battersby, Ben Hardcastle, Gareth Peet. Atherton Collieries – Second Half: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Tom Shaw, James Moore, Luke Gibson, Ahmed Sulay, Matt Cross, Josh Messer, Matt Boland ©, Wes Bancroft, James Kirby. Bolton Wanderers XI – First Half: Harry Campbell, Rob Holding, Tyler Garratt, Trialist, Nathaniel Phillips, Alex Finney, Jordan Lussey, Channing Campbell-Young, Conor Wilkinson, Jon Ceberio, Kaiyne Woolery. Bolton Wanderers XI – Second Half: Will Jaaskelainen, Callum Spooner, Alex Perry, Alex Honeyball, Max Allen, Enock-Likoy Elumba, Christopher Cvetko, Trialist, Tyrell Palmer, Jamie Thomas and Trialist. Attendance: 1,499 Match report by Zach Pierce

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