Report: Colls 2-1 Ramsbottom

Atherton Collieries booked their place in the Lancashire Cup semi-final at Leyland following a 2-1 win over Ramsbottom United. It was a weekend full of cup upsets, surprises and excitement. Blyth Spartans, Dover Athletic and Wrexham, among others, all etched their name into FA Cup folk law. They had defied the odds and were the lucky non-league teams to make the promise land of the third round. But on Monday evening, just hours after those teams found out their illustrious opponents of the next round, cup magic made its way to a little Lancastrian town for just one more upset. Although this was only the Lancashire Challenge Trophy, it conjured up one of the most remarkable results of the weekend. Little Atherton Collieries got up to their old tricks yet again… and knocked out Ramsbottom United, a team flying high in the Evo-Stik Premier, three divisions above them. Not only that; they did it in style. Good teams traditionally can be under the cosh for large periods of the game, but still snatch on that one opportunity to take the lead. Colls did just that. But what sets Colls apart from other good sides this season is that they can be under the cosh – and go two nil up. That is even more remarkable when you consider that Ramsbottom, a team who are known for their attacking flare and prowess, lined up with a full strength line-up. From the first whistle, that quality between the sides was evident to see. Ramsbottom pushed from the first whistle and were unfortunate not to find themselves ahead. But one chance was all Colls needed to make the first breakthrough in the match. Jake Kenny played in Mark Truffas, who from the edge of the box, succulently curled the ball into the far corner, out of the despairing reach of Rams goalkeeper Grant Shenton. Ramsbottom, clearly not playing to their full potential, still looked dangerous, as their superior quality of players saw them still conjure up chances, despite never realistically claiming a foot hold in the game. With 10 minutes to go before the half-time break, Ramsbottom shouted for a penalty. It probably was a foul, but the referee blew for offside, and the threat was muted. Truffas had the chance to increase Colls lead after a break from the back shortly afterwards. Almost identical to the shot which saw the hosts take the lead; this time he couldn’t direct it underneath the crossbar. Colls were dogged and well-drilled. Proven as Osebi Abadaki thought he was through one-on-one for Ramsbottom on the stroke of half-time, but the perfect back-line ensured that the tricky winger was in fact a step offside. Atherton were well and truly frustrating their Evo-Stik opponents. For all of the hard work that Colls put in, they reaped the rewards and unprecedentedly went two nil up in the 69th minute. Amidst cries of handball from the Ramsbottom players, Jordan Cover controlled the ball perfectly in his path and left himself one-on-one with Shenton. The keeper went one way; Cover sent the ball the other. It was two – and Colls finally had the cushion they so desperately craved. Now this might not have been the silky football which Premier League degenerates watch week in, week out from Manchester City, Chelsea and co, but for the game’s purists, this was turning into football porn at its finest. The second goal did kick Ramsbottom into life, however, and it took just six minutes for a response. Grant Spencer, on off the bench, curled a free-kick over the wall and perfectly into the near corner. Colls keeper Danny Taberner was unmoved; such was the quality of the set piece. From there on in, the pressure was relentless. Spencer again found space on the edge of the box and his effort crashed off the crossbar. Phil Dean followed it up by putting his effort over the bar. Ramsbottom had no idea how they hadn’t levelled the game. Neither did anyone in the ground, but it felt like it was going to be Colls’ night. Silly free-kicks left the home side living life dangerously as the clock ticked down, as the Rams rallied. “How long is left” became the only words being blurted out of spectator’s mouths. ‘Eleven minutes’ became ‘six minutes’ and six became four. Then three. Two. One. Could Colls hang on? Silly question. Of course they could. This remarkable team had claimed yet another Evo-Stik scalp, after getting their eventual revenge on Radcliffe Borough in the last round. While most people will be talking about the FA Cup drama of the weekend, the subsequent draw and the likely sides to take to the famous Wembley turf, Atherton Collieries Football Club wrote another chapter in the story of their remarkable 2014/15 season. Who needs a trip to Wembley? Colls have a trip to Leyland. Then who knows… a trip to the Macron? Now THAT is what cup football is all about. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Rob Swanton, Josh Messer, Mark Ayres, James Brooks, Mark Adams, Brad Cooke, Jordan Cover, Nathan Battersby, Mark Truffas - Subs: Ben Hardcastle, Matt Grimshaw, Jack Iley, Gareth Roberts, Tom Shaw Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton, Dominic Smalley, George Grayson, Gary Stopforth, Steven Howson, Lee Pugh, Tom Williams, Scott Burton, Jon Robinson, Tom Brooks, Osebi Abadaki - Subs: Phil Dean, Grant Spencer, Jordan Hulme, Tom Hartley, Bernard Morley Match report by Aaron Flanagan

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