Report: Colls 2-1 Winsford United

Once again it was a story of having to grind out a result for Atherton Collieries as a crowd of 233 saw the league leaders grab a 2-1 win over Winsford United. It was the first time the two clubs had met this campaign and Collieries certainly won’t enjoy visiting the Barton Stadium for the return fixture in a fortnights time after a tough battle. Collieries put in what could arguably be described as their most languid first half performance of the campaign. However, this would be doing Winsford a disservice as they produced what, through common consensus, was one of the best displays put in by an away side at The Kensite Stadium this season. Kyle Riley and Nathan Cotterell caused issues for the Colls defence all evening and it was the latter who opened the scoring on 9 minutes. He picked the ball up in an advanced position and began to dance and weave his way through the black and white defence before steadying himself. The striker looked to be hitting the ball towards the near post but wrong footed Adam Reid and slotted across the face of goal into the bottom left hand corner. It took until the 22nd minute for Collieries to have their first attempt on target and even when this arrived it was a tame effort from the edge of the area from Mark Truffas. It was the visitors from Cheshire who had the next opportunity and they were desperately unlucky not to double their advantage. A break down the left hand side resulted in a strong low cross being fired towards Reid, who parried to the edge of the six yard box. The incoming Winsford attacker was unable to divert his effort towards goal and it bounced agonisingly over the bar and out of play. It was a let off for the home side. As the half progressed, Collieries began to grow into the game and tried to settle into their usual passing rythm. It worked to an extent but Winsford’s deep defensive line and sheer number of bodies made it incredibly difficult for Michael Clegg’s side to get a foothold in the game. On 41 minutes, Vinny Bailey came very close to bringing Colls back on level terms. Ben Hardcastle bared down on the right hand byline and sent in a cross to the centre of the area. Bailey hit the ball first time towards goal from around a yard out and the crowd began to celebrate. Somehow, Matty Green instinctively threw a limb at the ball and it was cleared from danger. You sensed that if Colls could grab an equaliser before the interval then they would be in a more beneficial position for the second half. They probably didn’t deserve it and the goal did come from nothing but two minutes into added on time, Jordan Cover found the back of the net. A looping cross was sent in from the right hand side and it wasn’t dealt with by the Winsford defenders. Up stepped Cover who hammered in a volley from the edge of the area, finding the top right hand corner to leave Green with absolutely no chance. Half time - Colls 1-1 Winsford United The second half was a bit more of a laid back affair, with neither side making a strong start. Collieries did perform better this half though and the defence stood resolutely to help seal a vital three points in the title race. On 56 minutes the winning goal was scored. Hardcastle, who was a stand out performer, flicked the ball over his head to Cover. The striker in turn flicked the ball out wide to George West who took the ball in his stride and burst forward. He still had a lot of work to do but he managed expertly, beating the defender with pace before firing the ball into the bottom left hand corner from an extremely tight angle. There was a huge sigh of relief around the ground but that was far from the end of proceedings. While there may not have been many other clear cut chances, it was certainly an end-to-end, nerve wracking spectacle. On 63 minutes, the battered and bruised Adam Reid, who by now had been forced to change his bloodied shirt and had received physio attention on a couple of occasions, pulled off a match winning save. A free-kick was conceded on the edge of the area with Winsford attacking. The effort dipped towards the right hand post but Reid was able to push it around the post. Dave Sherlock, Darrhyl Mason and Mark Battersby were brought on to see the match out and between them they did well, especially Sherlock who was keen to get stuck in wherever possible. It hadn’t been a rough match by any standards but there were nine yellow cards brandished by the referee and the Winsford manager was given his marching orders, making events a little bit more interesting. Collieries held out for the three points which once again had to be fought for. Atherton Collieries - Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Jamie Forbes, Matt Grimshaw, Vinny Bailey, Ben Hardcastle, Jordan Cover, George West, Mark Truffas - Substitutes - Darrhyl Mason, Johnny Gorman, Dave Sherlock, James Brooks, Mark Battersby Winsford United - Matt Green, Caldon Henson, Lee Duckworth, James Rothwell, Will Foster, Sam Howell, Scott Taylor, Ryan Steele, Kyle Riley, Jordan Johnson, Nathan Cotterell - Substitutes - Aaron Stott, Sam Cook, Perry Bircumshaw, Daniel Osbourne Attendance - 233 Match report by Joseph Gibbons Photo by Rob Clarke

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