A lacklustre Atherton Collieries fell to a deserved defeat against a fired-up Leek Town. The visitors were the first to offer a major threat on goal, prompting a strong save from Nico Defreitas-Hansen on the counter attack.
The on-form Arran Pettifer controlled the midfield and possession throughout the first half, combining with wingback Clive Smith to provide a consistent threat along the right flank.
Leek eventually made an opportunity count and took the lead. Despite the best efforts of a great initial save from Nico Defreitas-Hansen, the rebound wasn't cleared and was finished by the impressive Oliver Harrison.
The game was put to bed in the early minutes of the first half. A penalty was contentiously awarded following a tight 50/50 challenge, converted by Leek captain William Reeves.
The goal deflated the Collieries ranks, and Leek took the ascendancy for the remainder of the second half.
Controversy ensued following a 50/50 involving Adam Rooney & Rob Stevenson. Both players fairly contested a high ball in the middle of the park. The referee eventually awarded a harsh yellow card to the Collieries defender following the protests of the visitors.
Leek poured salt in the wounds with a late third goal. Timothy Grice forced a mistake from Nico Defreitas-Hansen, who had been playing well to keep the hosts in the game, beating the goalkeeper to tap home.
Great performances from the Leek back line provided the foundation for what was an ultimately comfortable victory. Leek have spent the last few seasons pushing for promotion into the Northern Premier division, and looked good value to challenge yet again throughout Saturday's match. Next up, the Collieries return to all-important league action with the visit of Belper Town to the Skuna on Tuesday night. Your support for the lads will be as appreciated as ever!Colls: Nico Defreitas-Hansen, Clive Smith, Joel Amado, Arran Pettifer, Adam Rooney (Danny Lafferty '74), Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Aaron Smith, Scott Bakkor, Jay Fitzmartin (Jesse Ebosele '74), Marcus Cusani - Unused Sub: Gaz Peet Man of the Match: Arran Pettifer