Atherton Collieries braved the midweek snow to battle to a 1-1 draw at home to Warrington Town in the Northern Premier League.
Jay Fitzmartin converted directly from a corner in the second half to give Colls the lead, before Isaac Buckley-Richards struck at the death to deny the home side a narrow win. The result saw the Colls record their third straight one-a-piece draw and on the balance of play was probably a fair outcome.
Heavy downpours across the North West saw last weekend’s game against Liversedge aborted but despite freezing temperatures and flurries of snow, midweek action at the Skuna Stadium was thankfully given the green-light to go ahead.
Brad Cooke’s team sheet saw a familiar name return to the Skuna, this time in black and white, as Ben Hardcastle made his first appearance following his return from Ashton United, with elder statesman Gaz Peet handed a rare midweek rest.
Perhaps owing to the adverse weather conditions, the game was slow to warm up in the first half, the visitors’ dominating possession with chances few and far between for either side. Josh Amis’ produced the game’s first effort on goal, prompting a comfortable save from Nico Defreitas-Hansen before a short halt in proceedings due to a floodlight malfunction.
With the lights back on Colls, began towards the back end of the half, Scott Bakkor’s effort cleared off the line by Ethan Gumbs before Bailey Thompson’s header was thwarted by his namesake Tony Thompson in the Warrington net.
Nico-Defreitas Hansen was on-hand again before the half-time whistle, reacting well to push an awkward, bouncing effort from the visitors' Matty McDonald around the post, ensuring the game was still finely-poised heading into the interval.
Colls breakthrough would come in bizarre fashion just before the hour-mark, Jay Fitzmartin's in-swinging corner kick beating both defenders and goalkeeper to find the back of the net in bizarre fashion, despite the best efforts of those on the line.
With the home side finding themselves in a familiar position defending a slender advantage, it looked as though the defence would hold firm. Nico Defreitas-Hansen helping a curling free-kick from Dec Walker behind, before Warrington's Tom Hannigan headed a warning shot against the crossbar.
It wasn't to be however and the visitors found their efforts rewarded late on, denying Colls a victory with less than a minute remaining on the clock. Isaac Buckley-Richards was first to reach Sean William's delivery and dispatched first-time past Nico Defrietas-Hansen to ensure the spoils were once again shared at the Skuna.
Colls: Nico Defreitas-Hansen, Clive Smith, Joel Amado, Arran Pettifer, Danny Lafferty, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Ben Hardcastle, Scott Bakkor, Jay Fitzmartin (Jesse Ebosele 83'), Bailey Thompson (Adam Rooney 74')
Subs: Brown, Lenehan, Peet
Man of the Match: Ben Hardcastle
Report: Danny Brown
Photo: Dave Featherstone