Atherton Collieries recovered from their recent run of narrow defeats with a hard fought 1-1 draw against high-flying South Shields. Following a cagey first-half with few chances for either team, the Stripes eventually took the initiative following a red card for violent conduct received by Shields' Darius Osei in the opening stanza of the second half.
A raft of chances for the Colls soon followed, with Joel Amado shooting inches wide moments later. Marcus Cusani, who put in an immaculate performance despite being singled out for intense pressure by the opposition, was next to create an opportunity, firing high-and-wide following a promising breakaway for the Black & Whites.
The stand-out chance of the game then fell to Aaron Smith, who was fed a perfect ball courtesy of Danny Lambert following a free-kick, only to be denied a clear shot on goal by an exceptional rush by Shields' stopper Myles Boney.
Moments later, the Mariners' Jack Bodenham gave the visitors the lead against the run of play, converting a Nathan Lowe free-kick with a near-post finish after 75 minutes.
The pressure generated by the Colls was only intensified following this goal, as Gaz Peet almost converted a spectacular free-kick from an incredibly tight angle after 77 minutes, having been a thorn in the side for the Mariners throughout the match.
At this stage, attacking reinforcements were provided with the introduction of Matty Gillam and Elliot Rokka for the Stripes, a decision that would pay dividends within moments.
After 82 minutes, the Colls goal eventually came. Following a great run down the flank, Gaz Peet created a perfect opportunity for Matty Gillam to convert with confidence. The side-footed near-post effort earned the Black & Whites a deserved point, and sparked great celebrations as the frustrations of our recent goal drought were ended.
The Mariners' Dan Martin received a second yellow for a cynical foul on Gaz Peet deep into injury time, as the Colls created further chances in the dying embers of the match, pressing for a winner that ultimately never came.
We would like to thank everybody who attended Friday night's fireworks display at the club, which was by all accounts a resounding success. We also wish to thank all of the volunteers who made Friday night and Saturday's fixture both run so smoothly, as well as the incredible tidy-up effort in-between. The hard-work is much appreciated by all. Next up, the Collieries look to build upon this momentum as we travel to Buxton on Tuesday 9th November, before a newly scheduled fixture at Mickleover on Saturday 13th.
Our next home game will be on Saturday 20th November against FC United of Manchester, and as always your support will be much appreciated!Teamsheet: Elliot Wynne, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Niall Battersby, Danny Lafferty, Joel Amado, Ethan Kershaw (Gillam '79), Danny Lambert, Marcus Cusani, Jack Lenehan (Rokka '78), Aaron Smith (Sephton '94). Subs (Unused): Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Lewis Doyle Bolton Arena Man of the Match: Aaron Smith Match Report: Rob Clarke
Photo: David Featherstone