In theory, both games are quite similar to each other: both sides are going through a period of transition and they meet with Colls as Clegg enjoys a full team to select from. However, this does not make the game a walk over.
This game started like a house on fire, the 57 in attendance witnessed three goals within the opening four minutes. From the word go, the game was end to end.
With only 60 seconds gone, the Colls opened the scoring. Rhys Nevins fired low and hard past the keeper after he over powered the defender on the edge of the area. This was a good start by Atherton and in just his second game, Nevins fits into the Collieries’ squad well.
However, the initial joy was short lived as straight from the re-start Barnton equalised. The Colls lost the ball in midfield to Barnton’s Christopher Smith. The strong forward then powered through into the Atherton area and slotted past Adam Reid in goal. Clegg and his management team did not know how to react, neither the fans on the sideline.
In what was clearly going to be an entertaining game, clarity was restored on four minutes with the Collieries getting their second of the game. Since joining, Matty Chadwick has had quite an impression on the Crazy Gang, their admiration for the new midfielder only grew as he demonstrated skill and insight to pick out forward Mark Battersby and deliver a through ball to latch onto in the left side of the Barnton area. As the Barnton defence flooded back, Battersby took a touch, looked up and knocked the ball across to Ben Hardcaslte on the penalty spot. The skilful winger only had to tap in to retake Atheton’s lead.
On eleven minutes the Colls faithful suffered from an element of de ja vu as Barnton came close to equalising again. From the right side on the edge of the Colls area, Barnton’s Joshua Crofts curled an effort well over the bar.
Despite the oppositions’ attacking threats, Atherton pressed forward in an attempt to secure their advantage. It was one of those breaks that allowed Vinny Bailey to score his first goal in black and white (well, green and white) colours and send the Collieries three goals to the good. Battersby held the ball on the left side of the Barnton danger zone. Looking up, the forward passed along to Hardcastle on the penalty area. However, Hardcastle’s resulting tap at goal was saved. Unfortunately for Matthew Conkie in the Barnton goal, his parry landed straight at the feet of Bailey who fired the ball into the back of the net.
The Colls were now clicking very nicely together – they looked very confident in their play and clearly knew what they were doing. Their fourth goal of the afternoon came on 26 minutes. Chadwick skilfully twisted and turned his way deep into the Barnton cross, he cut through the left hand side. Everyone expected Chadwick to pass the ball along to the centre of the area – a better chance to score, surely? No. Chadwick evaded everyone, including Conkie, as he slipped the ball under the Keeper with ease.
Despite being four goals down, Barnton’s attacking prowess was still a real threat. On 30 minutes the reliable Adam Reid was called into action as he had to get down to grab Joshua Crofts’ poke at goal from inside the area, Lee Vaughan’s slip through the killer pass that evaded the Atherton back line.
Gaz Peet looks at home in the left back position, this was certainly the cas in this game – he defended well and attacked ruthlessly. 32 minutes into the game he was influential in foricing Conkie into a fine save. Peet collected the ball in defence and pelted down the left wing, ball glued to his feet. As no one was there to defend for Barnton, Peet cut inside of the area and knocked a ball across to Chadwick who flirted on the right edge. Chadwick let fly, a superb shot destined for the roof of the net, only for Conkie to jump high and tip over the bar.
The hosts pulled a goal back five minutes before the interval. The back four opened up and left Smith alone in the box and shot past Reid unerringly. A first half for the neutrals.
The second half was very end to end for the opening period, both sides had a huge number of half chances and despite the very skilful attack, the forwards simply weren’t able to turn those chances into goal. Since arriving at the Kensite Stadium, Ryhs Nevins has really impressed the Colls faithful, most of the chances fell to him in this half, however the majority of the winger’s efforts just tickled wide of the mark.
Probably one of the best moves and opportunities of the half came on 64 minutes. Nevins, in the Barnton area, pulled the ball back to Chadwick. Everyone knew what Chadwick was capable of, his shots carry power and precision. This was no different here as he curled an effort that bounced back off the centre of the cross bar. From the follow up Battersby tapped wide.
The Collieries didn’t get too downhearted over the missed efforts thanks to a Mark Ayres penalty following a handball in the box. Ayres sent the goalkeeper the wrong way in what was a very harsh penalty decision.
In the later periods of the game, the Collieries it bossed but could not reach the half dozen. A thoroughly entertaining match up with enterprising forward play. Colls deserved a third consecutive away league victory.
Match report by Zach Pierce