Report: Atherton LR 0-3 Colls

The Flatcap Derby VI offered Collieries the opportunity to win promotion at their fierce local rivals Laburnum Rovers. It was as close to a fairytale as you could get in this gritty hotbed of non-league football. A large crowd was in attendance at Crilly Park with over 150 making the short walk up the hill from Alder House. It was a difficult playing surface and Collieries found it hard to get into their usual passing rhythm but they could have been well in front following a strong start. They first came close to opening the scoring after just two minutes when they won a corner kick. Kristian Holt fired in a low cross from the right and Mark Battersby volleyed towards goal from the near post. The effort sailed through a cluster of bodies until it was cleared off the line by Shaun Rothwell. Three minutes later and Battersby played a ball over the top to Ben Hardcastle. The winger chased after the escaping ball and got a shot away but it was well saved by Rovers goalkeeper Charlie Dorsey. Another chance came and went on six minutes following some fantastic build up play by a Collieries midfield trio. Mark Truffas took a quick throw in to Josh Messer who in turn fed the ball into Kristian Holt. A flick around Rovers right back Rick Sopel saw the ball find its way back to Truffas who hit a first time cross to the back post. Mark Battersby steered the ball towards goal with a left footed volley but it fell just wide of the right hand post. On nine minutes, Collieries were awarded a soft free kick when Craig Dickinson was adjudged to have nudged Kristian Holt in the back while competing for a header. Holt quickly placed the ball on the floor and took a quick free kick switching play in the process. Ben Hardcastle found himself with possession on the right hand wing before he skipped past Shaun Rothwell and Jack Burke. Still carrying the ball towards goal former Colls favourite Kieran Halliwell closed Hardcastle down resulting in the winger firing towards goal. Charlie Dorsey was beaten but the effort clipped the crossbar and bounced back into play.  Collieries more than deservedly opened the scoring on 22 minutes from the penalty spot. Matt Grimshaw took a free kick from deep inside his own area and it found Mark Battersby on the edge of the box. The striker played in Gareth Peet who was fouled by Rick Sopel as he weaved towards goal. It was no surprise when Battersby stepped up and smashed the ball past Charlie Dorsey to break the all time NWCFL goal scoring record for a player in a season. Various chances came and went for Collieries as they attempted to double their lead. With five minutes of the first half remaining Matty Boland attempted to lob Charlie Dorsey from 30 yards out but it was a comfortable save for the goalkeeper.  The half time whistle arrived and Colls reflected on what had been a relatively frustrating but unchallenging afternoon so far. Colls found it hard to break down a resilient LR defence after they had opened the scoring but the home side had failed to test goalkeeper Danny Taberner, having just one shot which flew well over the crossbar. Going uphill second half, Colls came within inches of doubling their lead on 50 minutes. Kris Holt, Josh Messer, Gareth Peet Mark Battersby and Matty Boland all linked up with quick one touch passes to set Ben Hardcastle clear in the area. Jack Burke covered for Rovers but his challenge failed to clear the ball, allowing Hardcastle to steady himself before volleying just wide. A triple change was to come from Michael Clegg with Josh Messer, James Brooks and Matty Boland making way for Nathan Battersby, Rob Swanton and Tom Shaw. These changes seemed to bring more energy to Colls' play and numerous balls forward brought more attacking moves. Unfortunately, the linesman adjudged nearly every single movement to be offside meaning Collieries couldn't capitalise. Mark Battersby scored his second of the afternoon on 82 minutes when man of the match Ben Hardcastle played a through ball with the outside of his boot. With no defenders pressuring the striker he had time and space to pick a spot and pass the ball into the net past Charlie Dorsey. Battersby wheeled away and celebrated with his team mates in front of a group of away fans who were congregated behind the goal. A minute later and Colls were on the attack again. Nathan Battersby played a delicate ball over the top of the Rovers defence to Gareth Peet. The winger took a touch to knock the ball in front of him but could only drag his shot wide from a tight angle with his least favoured foot. With three minutes remaining Mark Battersby claimed his hat trick. A short Mark Truffas corner was played into Ben Hardcastle who danced past two defenders before playing the ball across the face of goal. Battersby was on hand to hammer the ball into the bottom right hand corner to seal the win. The final whistle signalled Collieries promotion back to the Premier Division following a six year absence. Champagne was thrown all over the Crilly Park pitch as the players and fans celebrated with the sun shining in northern Atherton. A year on from being knocked out of the Bolton Hospital Cup by Atherton Town, an infamous Collieries quote had been tested and well and truly beaten. "Remember, you have to conquer Atherton before you can conquer the rest of the world." Four more league wins would seal the league title. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, James Brooks (Rob Swanton), Josh Messer (Nathan Battersby), Gareth Carson, Matt Grimshaw, Ben Hardcastle, Kristian Holt, Mark Battersby, Matty Boland (Tom Shaw), Gareth Peet – Substitutes: Andrew Heald, Jordan Cover, Rob Swanton, Luke Gibson, Tom Shaw Atherton Laburnum Rovers: Charlie Dorsey, Rick Sopel, Shaun Rothwell, Jamie Forbes, Kieran Halliwell, Craig Dickinson, Ryan Porter, Thomas Booth, Ben Hyde, Jack Burke, Ash Farlow (Stephen Soledami) – Substitutes: Stephen Soledami, Ross McNair Attendance: 250 Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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