Report: Atherton Collieries 1-2 Brighouse Town

“The rain falls hard on a humdrum town” where the words bellowed out by Morrissey on the tannoy system shortly before kick-off. Of course, the latter part of these lyrics is wrong and even those from Brighouse wholeheartedly agreed as they enjoyed their day in a downtown ‘Bent monsoon. The troops had been rallied and a large crowd struggled to fit underneath the available shelter at Alder House. Collieries had been unfortunate not to progress on Saturday at St Giles Road, but such has been our luck in the FA Cup in recent seasons it was forced to a replay. Collieries once again had the opportunities to progress into the next round where they would face Newton Aycliffe, but it wasn’t to be as an experienced and physically stronger Brighouse travelled back to Yorkshire with a 2-1 victory. There were just two changes to the Collieries side from the match on Saturday with Brad Cooke and Mark Truffas both dropping down to the bench, replaced by Josh Messer and Gareth Peet respectively. Brighouse started the match brightly as they pressured and hurried Collieries at every available occasion. Ernest Boafo was a handful throughout and illustrated his danger when he came close to dispossessing goalkeeper Danny Taberner after just two minutes. Three minutes later and the visitors came close to opening the scoring from a corner kick. The ball was hit across the face of goal where nobody was able to get a touch on it. Ultimately the ball fell to Steve Hollingworth at the back post who headed into the side netting. Collieries first effort on goal arrived on seven minutes and as with Brighouse it came courtesy of a corner kick. Gareth Peet floated the ball in from the left hand side and the tall imposing figure of Matt Grimshaw rose the highest to direct it towards goal where it was comfortably saved by Paul Hargreen. On 11 minutes it was the home side who had another chance to break the deadlock. Poor defensive play from Brighouse presented Mark Battersby with the ball. With time and space he played a delicate lobbed through ball to Ben Hardcastle who raced forward and hammered the ball just over the crossbar. It was a let off for Brighouse. Brighouse took the lead on 22 minutes when they themselves were caught napping at the back. A quick free kick was taken from the edge of the box, allowing Ernest Boafo the opportunity to strike the ball past Danny Taberner into the bottom left hand corner. He wheeled away and celebrated with a belly slide in front of a rather subdued clubhouse. Mark Battersby provided the crowd with a moment of magic on 35 minutes when he was deeply unlucky not to equalise. Some great play in midfield from Collieries saw Battersby receive the ball on the far byline. Chesting to shield possession was proceeded by a couple of keepie uppies and a ferocious volley that flashed just across the face of goal. If anything, he hit it too well. Collieries were now enjoying their best spell of the half and once again were unfortunate not to level the scores when Battersby was involved again. The captain for the afternoon was seemingly involved all over the pitch, and was able to set up Kristian Holt in the middle of the pitch. The midfielder took one touch to set himself before hitting the ball towards the bottom left hand corner where a fingertip save from Paul Hargreen denied him. Eventually the home side scored their deserved equaliser. Once again, Mark Battersby was the instigator as Collieries attacked on the break. Play was switched across the pitch and Ben Hardcastle was able to run at pace towards the Brighouse defence. Beating two men he cut outside and hit the ball across the floor into the bottom right hand corner. Both sides ended the half happy with the scoreline and hoping to create that bit of magic that would take them into the next round. For Collieries it never quite happened, as an experienced and energetic Brighouse side went on to regain the lead just minutes after the interval. Will Tolley threaded a delicate through ball to Ryan Hall. Having galloped past a high defensive backline, Hall picked the ball up and rounded the advancing Danny Taberner. Despite Keith Wedge’s best efforts to get back and block the shot, Hall rolled the ball into an empty net and celebrated in front of the travelling fans. By this stage, my match report notes were becoming sodden and the paper too wet to write on. Meanwhile, the Brighouse Town twitter feed had stopped as their operators mobile phone was water damaged. The pitch was becoming waterlogged and you wondered whether the match would be abandoned if it was forced into extra time. Nathan Battersby and Ben Hardcastle continued to work hard on the right hand side as Collieries tried to equalise for the third time over the two matches. They hit the crossbar and had numerous shots cleared off the line but time was ticking. Jordan Cover, Sulay Ahmed and Mark Truffas were all brought on by Michael Clegg as Collieries went uber-attacking and switched to three men at the back. The decision nearly paid off, but it just wasn’t to be for Atherton who suffered FA Cup heartbreak in a replay at this stage for the third consecutive season. A spirited display from Atherton Collieries in both matches. Who knows, one day we might knock out an Evo-Stik side in the FA Cup? Nevermind. Best of luck to Brighouse Town in the next round against Newton Aycliffe. Attentions now turn to the FA Vase when we travel to Ashton Athletic this coming Saturday with the winners rewarded with a home tie against Atherton Laburnum Rovers. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Keith Wedge, Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Kristian Holt, Mark Battersby, James Kirby, Gareth Peet – Substitutions: Mark Truffas, Jordan Cover, Sulay Ahmed, Brad Cooke, Ross Farrington, Andy Heald Brighouse Town: Paul Hargreen, Sam Hewitt, Will Tolley, Daniel Illingworth, Adam Wilson, Martin Allison, Ryan Hall, Tom Haigh, Ernest Boafo, Steve Hollingworth, Kurt Harris – Substitutions: Ben Thornton, Harry Stead, James Pollard, Ashley Scully, Tom Robinson, Matthew Stor, James Hurley Attendance: 220   Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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