Report: Colls 0-2 Clitheroe

Two goals in the last eight minutes ended Atherton Collieries' hopes of an appearance in the final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy. Despite enjoying plenty of possession and creating some good chances, Colls were undone by late goals from David Lynch and Louis Mayers in a game in which Clitheroe played for over an hour with ten me following the dismissal of player-manager Simon Garner. Clitheroe now go on to face Chorley, conquerors of Holker Old Boys last week, in the final of the competition. In a lively first 45 minutes, Colls created probably their best chance of the first half in the 5th minute, when Brad Cooke swept the ball wide to Jake Kenny on the right, and when the cross came into the box Mark Battersby rifled a shot across the face of goal with the keeper beaten. Clitheroe hit back and after Danny Brady was allowed time and space to head over from close range, Danny Taberner in the Colls goal was called into action with a great full length save from a Louis Mayers shot. But a major talking point arose on the half hour, when Clitheroe’s Simon Garner was shown two yellow cards in the space of a minute. There was an element of mystery about the first yellow card, with Garner apparently carded for offering an opinion to the referee before play restarted, but there was no doubt about the second when he lunged into a tackle with studs raised on Colls’ Ben Hardcastle. Once the Colls’ players’ protests were waved away by the referee, Garner made the short walk from the touchline to the dressing room after seeing yellow again. The incident appeared to galvanise Garner’s team mates, as they then enjoyed a good spell of pressure up to the half time break, with Zac Dale and Louis Mayers both having chances. But Colls finished the half strongly, and after a delightful 1-2 between Ben Hardcastle and Brad Cooke sliced open the Clitheroe defence, Hardcastle’s goal bound shot was deflected for a corner. The opening stages of the second half produced little in the way of goalmouth action, but play swung from end to end and both sides missed excellent opportunities at the midway point of the half. Danny Taberner in the Colls goal made a great full length save from a David Lynch shot, while at the other end Kristian Holt had a cracking 25 yarder pushed over by Clitheroe keeper Zach Hibbert. But Colls’ best chance arrived with 20 minutes remaining, when a jinking run by Mark Battersby on the left led to him firing in a low cross that Matt Bowland side footed against the post. Six minutes later Bowland came close again with a 25 yarder that was smartly pushed around the post by Hibbert. But as the game looked to be heading for a penalty shoot out, Clitheroe broke the deadlock with eight minutes remaining. A neat move created an opening for the pacy Corey Bent on the right, and he drove a low cross into the box that David Lynch converted from 12 yards to give Clitheroe the lead. The Evo-Stik League side sealed victory with a second goal as the game moved towards stoppage time, when substitute James Walker set up Louis Mayers for a shot that took a deflection and beat Taberner at his near post. Atherton Collieries manager Michael Clegg said: “Credit to Clitheroe, they are a big strong side, well organised and I thought they deserved it tonight. “I think that going down to ten men inspired them, but we were poor. It’s the first time this season that I’ve really lost the rag with the players in the changing room, like I did at half time. “We didn’t play to our strengths, and it wasn’t a Michael Clegg Atherton Colls side who turned up. “It was a massive game for the club and for the lads, and I think for a few of them it was a bridge too far for them. “But I can’t take anything away from Clitheroe, I thought they were superb and were deserving winners, and I wish them well in the final”.   Match report by Ian Templeman, originally published at www.nwcfl.com

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