A New Year – A change in the weather possibly?
Not a chance! The rain was putting in another top performance. I arrived at the ground around 10am and the paddock was wet not unexpectedly given the previous days battering but the pitch was standing up to it , therefore I tweeted that it was 100% playable. Then the heaven’s opened again and for 90 minutes it poured down. I had not called a ref in to do an early pitch inspection and when I rang one of my usual panel of referees at 11.15am he told me he was being picked up in 30 minutes to go to his own fixture so he couldn’t hot foot it to Alder House. Therefore it was left in the hands of the match ref who was setting off from the Liverpool area around noonish.
We marked the pitch, dropped some sand in the centre circle and got a couple of forks out to drain off the standing water. We didn’t want another Saturday afternoon without football. Mr Dinsmore the match referee arrived and deemed the pitch playable but only just. Another deluge of rain before KO would have seen the game postponed. The pitch was going to cut up bad with the match and the warm up but we would leave worrying about that for another day.
Colls introduced goalkeeper Paul Hughes for his debut as Danny Taberner was unavailable. Paul had joined us from West Didsbury & Chorlton just after xmas and had played against us on the opening day of the season when he was in tremendous form. Brad Cooke was serving a one match ban for 5 bookings with Nathan Battersby taking his place in the engine room. Athletic came to Alder House buoyed by a 3-0 victory at West Didsbury in their previous outing. The teams played out two games in the FA Vase early in the season and were evenly matched.
The opening period of the match saw the players getting used to the soggy conditions. Mark Battersby almost chased an under hit backpass down before Athletic No 9 Joel Brownhill shot over from a tight angle. Ben Hardcastle then saw his shot saved at the near post by Martin Pearson after good approach play by Dave Sherlock.
On 20 minutes Sherlock headed narrowly wide from pointblank range after a pinpoint Mark Battersby centre. Battersby then thought he had broken the deadlock but was flagged for offside. Colls had the best chances in the first half and perhaps the most clearcut was seconds before the interval. A through ball parted the defence like the Red Sea and enabled Mark Truffas to race clear on goal. The ball seemed to stick in the mud slightly which helped the chasing defender whose top notch harrying forced Truffas to shoot wide.
Athletic’s best effort was when a powerful shot hit the outside of the netting. A few players and spectators thought the ball had actually gone into the net.
The visitors controlled the opening ten minutes of the second half. Former Colls striker Danny Smith headed wide following a bit of concerted pressure before Hughes saved well from Adam Howard. Colls then got the bit between their teeth with Nathan Battersby and Josh Messer pulling the strings in the middle of the park. Mark Battersby turned his defender in the six yard box but Pearson instinctively made a great save.
The deadlock was broken on 66 minutes. A corner was fired in and from yards out Mark Ayres flicked the ball home for his first goal of the campaign. The visitors weren’t finished and Hughes had to make another couple of important stops. Good pressure from Colls almost forced a 30 yard own goal and Mark Battersby had a shot tipped over by Pearson in injury time.
A fine win for the black n whites stripes in sapping conditions. Both teams played their part in this very close game although these words will be of no consolation whatsoever for Ashton Athletic FC. Manager Michael Clegg was proud of his lads display which allowed them to reach a season’s high 4thposition.
Team: 1. Paul Hughes 2. Jake Kenny 3. Gareth Peet 4. Josh Messer 5. Mark Ayres 6. Callum Jones 7. Ben Hardcastle 8. Nathan Battersby 9. Mark Battersby 10. Dave Sherlock (Jordan Cover) 11. Mark Truffas (Keith Wedge)
MOM – Nathan Battersby
Match report by Emil Anderson