Report: Atherton Collieries 3-1 Ashton Athletic

After what manager Michael Clegg described as "the worst game of football he had ever been involved in" on Saturday, Colls and Ashton Athletic went head-to-head again. The replay came just two days after the initial contest and was welcomed by a large crowd, two exploding floodlights and some questionable pitch markings. Josh Messer was replaced by James Moore while Mark Battersby came in for James Kirby. Meanwhile, on the Ashton Athletic bench were Aaron Cringle and Danny Smith who both enjoyed successful spells at Colls under Steve Pilling. Ashton were gifted an early lead when Paul Watson stabbed the ball past Danny Taberner after just five minutes. It was a disappointing goal to concede and not the start that was needed, but it appeared to spur Colls on. However, it was the visitors who looked likely to score again in the moments after the goal with the lively Isaac Kusaloka spearheading their attack. Ian Rowlands and Louis Edwards ushered an organised Athletic backline throughout the match but they were up against players who produced inspired performances. Mark Truffas, Ben Hardcastle and Mark Battersby linked up well throughout the first half but were unable to find a clear route through on goal. When Colls did manage to break through the defence and get a shot away, goalkeeper Martin Pearson was on hand to retain his sides lead. On 25 minutes Mark Truffas collected the ball on the left hand wing and cut inside before curling the ball towards the far post. It looked to be sneaking in but it was expertly tipped away for a corner by Pearson. From the resulting set piece Ben Hardcastle hit the ball just wide and Collieries were now getting on top of the match. A deserved equaliser came on the half hour mark when a moment of individual brilliance produced a goal. Mark Battersby collected the ball in the centre of the pitch and set off towards goal, winding and hurdling past challenges as he went. Reaching the area he cut inside a further two defenders and passed the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Four minutes later and Atherton took the lead when James Moore scored his first goal for the club. Mark Truffas fired a corner in from the right hand side and the ball was eventually put into the back of the net by Moore.  Ashton had an opportunity to equalise five minutes before the interval when Isaac Kusaloka once again caused problems for the Colls defence. Having picked the ball up on the edge of the area he beat one defender and dragged the ball just wide of the left hand post. The half time interval arrived and Collieries could be satisfied with their first half performance despite the fact they were clearly still not at their best.  Attacking up the slope in the second half, the home side went uber-attacking much to the delight of the Alder House crowd. Gareth Peet and Mark Battersby were stand out performers with the latter picking up the man of the match award off Kevin Davies who was in attendance. Five minutes into the half Mark Truffas was played through into the area and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Pearson. Just as the winger was about to unleash a shot, defender Ian Rowlands put in a well timed sliding tackle to see the ball out for a corner. 63 minutes and Isaac Kusaloka once again went close to scoring when he cut inside from the left hand wing. Having made time and space for himself he hit the ball through a crowd of bodies and Danny Taberner was able to save down to his far right. Mark Ayres found himself in an advanced position following a corner kick on 72 minutes. The ball wasn't cleared fully by Ashton, and it was crossed back in by Gareth Peet. A flicked header from Mark Battersby guided the ball towards the back post where Ayres nipped in front of his marker and volleyed towards goal but Pearson was equal to it. Eight minutes later and Collieries place in the next round of the Vase was all but sealed when Mark Battersby scored another wonder goal. He shifted the ball away from two markers and curled it into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the box. Collieries saw the match out and introduced debutant Jacob Jones for the remainder of the match.  Having knocked Ashton Athletic out, Collieries have been rewarded with a home tie to rivals Atherton Laburnum Rovers who received a bye in this round. This match will take place the weekend of Saturday 3rd October. Next up for Colls is a league double header at the weekend when we have two home matches in three days. On Saturday, Bootle are the visitors before league leaders Barnoldswick Town make the journey down to Alder House on Monday night. Atherton Collieries - Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Keith Wedge, Kristian Holt, Mark Ayres, James Moore, Gareth Peet, Brad Cooke, Mark Battersby, Ben Hardcastle, Mark Truffas - Substitutes: Matt Grimshaw, Jordan Cover, Josh Messer, Jacob Jones, James Kirby Ashton Athletic - Martin Pearson, Louis Edwards, Adam Howard, Ian Rowlands, Mike Wood, Paul Watson, Danny Regan, Aaron Morris, Isaac Kusaloka, Callum Mahoney, Richie Livingston - Substitutes: Danny Smith, Paul Casey, Luke Holden, Aaron Cringle, Adam Gilchrist Attendance: 190 Man of the match - Mark Battersby   Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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