Atherton Collieries cup dream came to an end as they suffered a 2-0 loss to West Didsbury & Chorlton in the semi-final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy. Two second half goals from Dontai Gabidon and Rhain Davis at The County Ground saw the North West Counties side book their place in the final at the expense of an injury-ridden Colls.
Both sides came into the game on a high, WD&C fresh off the back of an 18-0 thumping of St Martins and Colls following their heroic 1-0 win away at Matlock Town. Captain Danny Lafferty was an unfortunate casualty of the weekend's game and was forced to watch from the sidelines, part of a growing Colls injury list as the games come thick and fast at the end of the season.
The game got off to a tentative start in front of the bumper crowd at The County Ground, with Colls dominating possession but neither keeper troubled within the opening twenty. The first chance of the evening fell to Aaron Smith who was denied by the feet of Andrew Jones in net before blazing over the bar as the offside flag went up on the far side.
Matty Gillam had a good sight of goal on the half-hour mark, the ball dropping to him at the back post from a corner, but his vollyed effort was skewed well over the crossbar. It was to be the forward's only real involvement in the fixture, as an injury forced him to make way for Dec Daniels in Colls' first enforced change of the evening.
The second half started in the same vein as the opening forty five minutes, Colls asserting pressure but struggling to create clear openings. Jack Lenehan went closest, driving through the midfield and unleashing a powerful strike from distance that deflected narrowly over the WD&C crossbar.
Having defended resolutely, WD&C took a surprise lead on the hour mark, a swift break ending with Dontai Gabidon on the edge of the Colls area who had the awareness to pick out the bottom corner of Danny Taberner's goal. It went from bad to worse for Colls ten minutes later as Rhian Davis headed home, putting a jubilant WD&C two goals ahead with a quarter of an hour left.
After substitute Dec Daniels was forced to leave the pitch due to another injury, Colls threw bodies forward in attempt to get back into the game but were met by stern resistance from the determined WD&C defence. Aaron Smith saw an effort denied by a late ditch tackle and Luca Defreitas-Hansen was blocked from close-range in a day when Colls never really looked like scoring.
When the final whistle went it was disappointment for Colls and jubilation for West Didsbury & Chorlton, who's performance on the night ultimately earned them their place in the final. It was a magnificent achievement for Colls to have reached this stage and no doubt the team will back next year and hungry to take that extra step.
Colls: Danny Taberner, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet (C), Danny Lambert, Scott Sephton, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Jack Lenehan, Marcus Cusani, Matty Gillam (Dec Daniels '30) and Aaron Smith
Subs: Niall Battersby (on for Dec Daniels '68) Joel Amado
Photo: Dave Featherstone
Report: Danny Brown