Atherton Collieries put in an impressive performance to beat Evo-Stik Premier side Curzon Ashton at Alder House on Saturday. Atherton's young side took time to settle into this fixture, but grew in confidence as the afternoon progressed. Curzon had a strong side out in the first half; opting to field a handful of fringe players in the second.
Jordan Cover and Phil Howard were unavailable for Colls through injury, whilst Connor Hampson and Matthew Warburton also missed the match for the visitors.
The first fifteen minutes saw Curzon pass the ball around well but Colls held their own and soon came into the match. It was then that the home side began to keep possession well across the field. A couple of breaks down the wing from Ben Hardcastle looked promising, but at times he lacked support.
On six minutes, Curzon's Matty Kay was fed through from midfield, but his effort went well over the bar, causing Taberner no problems. However, the Colls goalkeeper was in action on 14 minutes when he stopped well from a Jimmy McCarthy shot.
Hardcastle came close to opening the scoring on 38 minutes after a fantastic run saw him skip past numerous challenges. Cutting back across the face of goal, he shot from edge of the box only to see his effort bounce out off the foot of the post.
At the back, the Colls defenders looked more organised than in previous matches and coped well with the threat of Niall Cummins.
The match was goalless at half time. Michael Clegg introduced Josh Harris, Kieran Halliwell, James Halpin, James Brooks, Gaz Carson and Mark Truffas during the break, whilst John Flanagan opted to hand some of his fringe players some game time.
Mark Truffas made an impact down the left hand side, with a number of attacks coming through him.
Former Curzon Ashton midfielder Andy Heald grabbed his first goal for Colls when he placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner from outside the box. He wheeled away, celebrating in front of the contingency of Leigh fans who began to chant his name.
Ryan Brooke came close to equalising ten minutes later, but his shot - which was heading for the top corner - was smartly tipped over the bar by Harris. The goalkeeper was called upon again from the resulting corner, flicking the ball away with his palm when Curzon players were ready to capitalise.
An equalising goal arrived from the visitors next corner, with Jono Hunt heading in from close range.
Matty Boland scored the winning goal of the game on 78 minutes when he found himself one on one with Hakan Burton. With the Curzon defenders bearing down on him, Boland kept his composure, slotting the ball underneath Burton into the goal.
It was a very pleasing performance from Atherton. At times in the first half, the team looked a bit disjointed, but players are now beginning to gel and the results look promising. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Matthew Grimshaw, Chris Lawton, Nathan Battersby, Andy Heald, Brad Cooke, Matty Boland, Ben Hardcastle, Tom Shaw - Substitutes: Josh Harris, Kieran Halliwell, James Halpin, Vinny Mukendi, James Brooks, Mark Truffas, Gaz Carson
Curzon Ashton: Hakan Burton, Luke Fitzgerald, Schofield, Jono Hunt, Andy Watson, Chris Rowney, Ryan Watson, Sam Walker, Niall Cummins, Luke McCarthy, Matty Kay - Substitutes: Headley, T. Walker, Crothers, Mack, Ryan Brooke, Wright