Report: Colls 2-1 Colwyn Bay

The Collieries were out to right a wrong on Saturday as they once again welcomed Colwyn Bay to the Kensite for an FA Cup Preliminary Round encounter, serving as a perfect opportunity to make amends following Monday’s 4-2 defeat in the league. Following injury to Goalkeeper Greg Hartley, ex-AFC Liverpool stopper Jack Cookson came in to take his place in-between the sticks. Otherwise, it was largely an unchanged side from the two season openers the Colls have played so far. This being the FA Cup, Atherton went straight for glory as they registered their first shot on goal just four minutes into the game. A lofted ball floated towards midfielder Ben Hardcastle who headed up, chested down, and turned towards goal on the edge of the area. The Colwyn Bay defensive line scrambled around Hardcastle and made any attempt to rob the ball of him, ultimately the midfielder released a scuffed effort that was collected by Paddy Wharton. Continuing his fine start to the season, Hardcastle persisted to cause problems eight minutes later. The midfielder broke into the Visitors’ area on the right side, stopper Wharton came out to meet Hardcastle, forcing him down as he collected, any shouts for a spot-kick were assertively waved away by the referee. Minutes later he worked himself a way in again, but the shot was dragged wide of the mark. Colwyn Bay played their best football at this mid-point of the half, Michael Clegg’s men struggling to win possession back and hold for any substantial period of time. Thankfully for the Collieries, though, nothing came out of this good Bay spell. Just after the half hour mark, the Seagulls came very close to finding the illusive opener. 25 yards from goal, the ball fell to Lass Mendes who unleashed a dipping effort the flew just over the bar. The Kensite fell silent as soon as the ball left his boot with nobody knowing where it was going to end up. Atherton were turning up the pressure on the Welsh side, chance after chance came and went, again a highlight involved that man Hardcastle. On 34 minutes right-back Dave Sherlock played the ball across to Hardcastle in the area, a simple tap-in would have seen the midfielder, once again, take the lead for Colls. Unfortunately, the ball simply got stuck under Hardcastle’s feet. With five minutes to go until the break, however, the Collieries took the lead. Connor Gaul played Gaz Peet down the wing, Peet worked his magic in the area and, frustrated, was fouled by James Barrigan. Hardcastle, brimming with confidence, took responsibility and dispatched with apparent ease to send the Colls 1-0 up. Just before the whistle was blown for the break, Atherton very nearly made it two. Gaul again provided the goods as he whipped a superb ball into the area for Tom Bentham to direct at goal. Bay have Lassana Mendes to thank who hovered on the line to head it away from danger. Colwyn Bay came out in the second half determined to find that equaliser. Nine minutes in saw Captain Tom McCready advance forward from defence and fire a curling shot from distance at goal, an effort destined for the back of the net, Cookson though alert to it. As the clock hit the hour mark, Clegg’s men came as close as they possibly could do in their search to secure their advantage. A Vinny Bailey corner saw chaos ensue in the Seagulls’ area, from which Hardcastle rocketed a deflected effort at goal, only the woodwork prevented the midfielder from registering his second of the game. On 68 minutes though, Atherton had their second. The referee made a smart decision in allowing play to continue following a foul during a Colls attack. Conway, who was carrying a knock, collected the ball outside the area and fired a low and hard shot that bulleted into the back of the net, Colwyn Bay’s defence had no hope. In an attempt to salvage at least a reply, the Seagulls stepped their game up, making life difficult for the lads in black and white. On 72 minutes they found themselves with a perfectly placed free-kick on the edge of the area. McCready, a troublesome player, curled an exquisite ball into the top right hand corner of the Colls goal. Unfortunate for Cookson as ten Goalkeepers would have struggled to stop that one. Through calm and controlled play, though, Clegg’s men rode out the remaining twenty minutes of the game to proudly see off Colwyn Bay at the second time of asking and progress through to the next round of the FA Cup - could this year be our year, who knows? Either way, the Collieries’ opponents will be released at around 13:00 on Tuesday afternoon. Games come thick and fast in this league, Bank Holiday Monday sees Atherton welcome Ramsbottom United to the Kensite for another Evo-Stik encounter, 15:00 kick-off for this derby game. Get down to support Clegg and the lads! Atherton Collieries: Jack Cookson, Dave Sherlock, Gareth Peet, Daniel Lambert, Danny Lafferty ©, Ian Rowlands, Ben Conway, Vincent Bailey, Tom Bentham, Ben Hardcastle, Connor Gaul - Substitutes: Adam Farrell, Matthew Grimshaw, James Sigsworth, Glenn Matthews, Deven Golden, Josh Peet. Colwyn Bay: Paddy Wharton, Tom McCready ©, James Devine, Luke Horrocks, Gareth Grant, Will Bell, Danny Andrews, Lassana Mendes, Ashley Ruane, James Barrigan, Callum Hassan - Substitutes: Paddy Rutter, Josh Brizzell, Olly Marx, Ethan Devine, Craig Pritchard. Goal(s): Ben Hardcastle (penalty 41'), Ben Conway (68') Attendance: 184

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