It has certainly been a busy summer at
the Skuna Stadium. New era, new stripes, new manager, new coaching team, new
players, new sponsors, new fans. One thing hasn't changed, however, and that's
the pride, effort and commitment that comes with playing in the black and white
stripes of Atherton Collieries. All three qualities were evident last night in what
was the Stripes' first ever opening home league win since gaining Northern
Premier League status.
In his post-match interview, Manager David Chadwick spoke about the importance of getting points on the board. That intensity and desire to make progress was evident from the opening stages of the game. Nathan Caine, Harvey Gregson, Jordan Scanlon and Lewis Mansell all tested the Bradford Park Avenue defense numerous times.
It was Scanlon, though, who caused the most headaches in the opening twenty minutes. First, he played a ball through to Caine that Park Avenue cleared under pressure. Second, denied by the Bradford stopper after a smart ball through from Mansell. Third, goal! The tricky forward received the ball on the edge of the area, twisted and turned before a gap opened up on, surprisingly, his weaker foot. Arguably, weak in name only, for Scanlon curled a skilled ball into the back of the net to hand Chadwick his first goal as Colls gaffer. Some goal it was too.
A few chances for Colls came and went, Bradford could not relax. Naturally, the Colls advantage spurred the visitors on a little. On 35 minutes a ball was drilled across Atherton's area and found a free Park Avenue head. It was a smart move that caught the Collieries off guard. Never fear, Nico Defreitas-Hansen was on hand with cat-like reflexes to parry the ball away.
Half time beckoned and the Colls deserved their lead.
The second period of the game required a deep defensive effort from those playing in black and white. After the game, Chadwick felt this was slightly too deep for his liking and as was maybe a result of early-season jitters. Something, he says, that needs to be worked on. Despite this, everyone had confidence in the Colls defense, and the manner in which they kept Bradford at bay. Every attack was either cleared, headed away or saved by the sturdy hands of Defreitas-Hansen.
The visitor's best chance of the game came on 85 minutes as a long-range effort just skimmed the Colls bar. A sigh of relief for the majority of the 301 in attendance.
A spell of Bradford corners inside of the additional four added minutes increased the pressure on the backline. However, as the clock ticked into the fourth minute, Atherton broke away. Leading the attack? You've guessed it, that man Scanlon. From midfield onwards the ball was his. The forward carried, kept calm and slotted into the back of the net and past the advancing keeper with a sea of black and white stripes following to support.
Two goals for Scanlon, two goals for Colls and the first three point of the Chadwick era. What a great day at the office! A performance and a half from the black and white stripes - confident and creative going forward, sturdy at the back. Scanlon, naturally, took the Man of the Match acclaim. Last night, however, was a proper Colls team performance and that is some going for a squad only playing its second competitive game together.
Next up, Warrington Rylands on Saturday. There may be a few familiar faces wearing Rylands blue, but only time will tell. Get on down to cheer Chadwick and the lads on, you all saw how much it meant to them last night.
The Colls: Nico Defreitas-Hansen, Jack Evans, Josh Askew (74’ Adam Rooney), Dylan Moonan, Jordan Fagbola, Jordan Boon, Ben Rydel, Harvey Gregson, Lewis Mansell (64’ Mwiya Malumo), Jordan Scanlon, Nathan Caine (83’ Sidi Fofana) – Sub (Unused): Jack Buckley
Man of the Match – Sponsored by the Colls Supporters Club: Jordan Scanlon, sponsored by John and Vicki
Match Report: Zach Pierce
Photo: David Featherstone