A multitude of missed Colls chances saw the home side left to rue what might have been as a late thunderbolt of a strike saw Shropshire visitors Market Drayton Town ran out 2-1 victors at the Skuna Stadium in the Evo-Stik League Division One West. The defeat represents Colls’ first league loss since the end of August, leaving Colls in fourth position in the league table ahead of Monday’s visit of seventh placed Prescot Cables.
The first 25 minutes of action saw Colls dominate both in terms of possession and territory, though they only had a 5th minute Ben Hardcastle strike to show for their efforts, visiting goalkeeper Ashley Rawlins thwarting Colls for what would turn out to be the first of many occasions throughout the afternoon, batting the ball away in somewhat unconventional fashion.
Jordan Cover looked set to put Colls in front on the half hour mark, latching on to Josh Messer’s lovely threaded pass and rounding Rawlins, only to clatter the left hand goal post when trying to divert the ball around a trio of retreating Market Drayton defenders guarding the goal line. Cover flashed a 34th minute effort narrowly wide of the far post before Rawlins again did well to flick a Ben Hardcastle effort over the crossbar, with the Colls wide man flighting a free kick just past the post with the final act of a frustrating first half for Colls.
Rawlins was again the only obstacle preventing Colls from going in front, making a terrific double save on 55 minutes, quickly reaching low down to keep out Danny Lafferty’s header from a Vinny Bailey corner before palming away palming away Callum Spooner’s driven 30 yard strike.
Having been largely a spectator for most of the game, Colls goalkeeper Dale Latham was called in to action on 60 minutes to keep out a Harvey Howell effort, but there was nothing Latham could do moments later later from the resultant corner as the visitors went in front against the run of play, Simon Gregory scrambling the ball home.
It took only 7 minutes for Colls to grab an equaliser, Rawlins getting a hand to the ball but ultimately finally beaten as Cover lashed the ball inside the far post. Three minutes later and substitute Tom Bentham was agonisingly close to putting Colls in front, beating Rawlins but not visiting skipper Paul McMullen, who did superbly well to clear the ball just in front of the line.
Latham was called back in to action at the other end as Market Drayton looked to catch Colls on the break, doing well to use his feet to block the ball, while Bentham was again inches away from a second Colls goal, flashing the ball narrowly past the far post after being expertly played in by Messer.
Colls continued to pour forward in the search of a winner but were hit by an 85tg minute sucker punch that ultimately decided the game, William Wells firing in a terrific strike from the left hand side outside the penalty area that gave Latham no chance as it flew in to the top right hand corner.
Danny Lafferty headed over the bar and Gareth Peet had a free kick saved by Rawlins as the black and whites searched for a late equaliser, but it wasn’t to be as the away side celebrated victory.
Ahead of a run of five consecutive away games, Colls are back in home action this coming Monday (8th October) when fellow high-flyers Prescot are the visitors for a 7.45pm league fixture before a lengthy period on the road starts an appropriate fashion with the long trip to the north east to take on Marske United in the FA Trophy the following Saturday (13th October, 3pm). Atherton Collieries: Dale Latham, Callum Spooner, Glenn Matthews (Gareth Peet 79’), Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Danny Lambert (Tom Bentham 64’), Jordan Cover, Vinny Bailey, Conor Gaul (James Sigsworth 79’). Substitutes (not used): Dave Sherlock, Luke GiverinGoals(s): Jordan Cover (67’)Man of the match: Josh Messer Attendance: 179
Match report: Matt Lawton
Photograph: David Featherstone