Report: Bootle 2-5 Colls

FIVE ALIVE FOR HIGH FLYING COLLS

Bootle 2 Atherton Collieries 5

By Matt Lawton

In the archetypal game of two halves, Micheal Clegg’s Atherton Collieries side moved level on points with second placed Colne after overcoming a 1-0 half-time deficit to run out thumping 5-2 victors away to sixth-placed Bootle. With Colls’ initially scheduled to visit AFC Blackpool, floodlight problems at the Mechanics Ground saw that fixture fall by the wayside, but tremendous co-operation between Colls, Bootle and the North West Counties League ensured there wasn’t a blank midweek and set to work at arranging this fixture to take place at less than 24 hours notice. The visitors could have gone ahead inside the first minute when Jordan Cover and Mark Truffas combined for the latter to dribble around Bootle goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom for a clear view at goal, only to hit the side netting from an acute angle. That wasn’t much of an indication of how the first half was likely to pan out though, when first Bootle went ahead in the third minute when Thomas Ellis smashed the ball in to Danny Taberner’s top left hand corner after the ball had broken to him on the edge of the area. Bootle’s lead could have twice been doubled in the next two minutes when first Dominic Marie sent a shot skimming over the crossbar before cracking a shot against the post as Colls struggled to get any foothold in the game during the opening exchanges. As the first half wore on, Colls found themselves having much more possession and territory but largely failed to create many clear-cut chances, though Cover was inches away from levelling the scores when he couldn’t quite connect with the ball after Ramsbottom parried it in to his path when saving a Ben Hardcastle strike, while there needed to be a degree of reorganisation just after the half hour mark when Brad Cooke had to be withdraw through injury to be replaced by Josh Messer. With his side behind at half-time, Clegg must have worked some magic during the break as his charges came out looking a different side right from the start of the second half, going immediately on the attack as Kris Holt clipped a shot against the top of the crossbar after being played through by Mark Battersby. It took only ten minutes of the second half before Colls drew level through Jordan Cover, lifting the ball over Ramsbottom and a couple of defenders covering on the line after the ball had rebounded in to his path as Mark Battersby struggled to tee up a shot. Only two minutes later and Colls took a 2-1 lead as right back Nathan Battersby was brought down in the penalty area as he tried to cut inside the covering Bootle defence. Fresh from scoring his side’s third goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Cammell Laird, centre back Mark Ayres was a somewhat unexpected penalty taker, but he made it look easy work as he calmly rolled in a beauty of a spot kick as if he was having a kickaround in the park. The lead was soon extended to two goals when a spell of incisive one touch passing opened up the Bootle defence for Cover to play the ball across goal and lay it on a plate for Mark Truffas to caress the ball home to complete a passage of true footballing quality. Dave Sherlock was introduced from the bench to replace Jordan Cover while former Southampton youngster Jamal Branker made his Colls debut, coming on for Ben Hardcastle just in time for Kris Holt to extend the black and white lead to 4-1, curling in another goal straight from the top drawer after Mark Battersby had done well to bring the ball down from the air and dink the ball in to space for Holt to cut inside pick his spot. The scoreline reached rout proportions with only four minutes left when that man Mark Battersby, so often the goalscorer but also very much a provider, was once again involved, winning a penalty as he was wrestled to the ground by Keiron Haligan while trying to find space for a shot. Any doubts of Mark Ayres’ penalty taking ability was certainly dispelled with his first strike of the evening, but his second attempt from twelve yards wasn’t quite as successful as Ramsbottom made the save, but Ayres’ blushes were saved as substitute Dave Sherlock followed the ball up to sweep in the rebound for his side’s fifth goal of the evening. There was an element of switching off in the Colls defence two minutes later when Josh Hamilton found Taberner’s bottom corner for a goal that was well deserved after an impressive display from the diminutive forward, but it was scant consolation for Bootle as Colls ran out comfortable victors. The three points puts Colls level on points with second-placed Colne, albeit behind them on goal difference and having played a game more, while leaders Runcorn Linnets are nine points clear at the top of the league, although they are four games ahead of Colls and have played five more games than Colne. Colls’ next outing comes on Friday evening when Nelson are the visitors to Alder House (5th February, 7.45pm) before a visit to AFC Darwen next Wednesday (10th February, 7.45pm). Atherton Collieries; Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Gareth Peet, Kris Holt, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle (Jamal Branker), Brad Cooke (Josh Messer), Mark Battersby, Jordan Cover (Dave Sherlock), Mark Truffas. Subs (not used); Jacob Jones, Callum Jones  

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