Report: Colls 4-0 Litherland

Too often in modern day football, matches are postponed if there is the slightest puddle on the pitch. It would have been easier to call this match off at the crack of dawn but the ever reliant Jasper – ably assisted by Cleggy, Warren, Bod and Andy Norris – ensured this match got the go-ahead by a young referee who allowed common sense to prevail. A place in the final of the Reusch First Division Cup was at stake. Collieries have won the competition just the once when they beat AFC Liverpool at Flixton in 2011. REMYCA on the other hand were experiencing their first season in the competition and can be incredibly proud to have reached the semi-finals at their inaugural attempt. The sides had met in the league twice this campaign, with Collieries recording 6-0 and 3-1 victories respectively. Louis Austin who scored for REMYCA in the last meeting earlier in the month started on the bench for this fixture. Collieries made a few changes following their midweek victory over Blackrod Town. At the back, there was one change with Keith Wedge replacing James Brooks who dropped down to the bench. Fellow defender Luke Gibson joined from Runcorn Town too late to be included. In midfield, Mark Adams and Nathan Battersby were the notable absentees. Brad Cooke, Ben Hardcastle and Mark Truffas returned to the starting eleven and Matty Boland was also handed a start. Kris Holt retained his place from Wednesday evening, while Mark Battersby started up top on his own. Litherland had the first shot of the match after just two minutes but it flashed wide of Danny Taberner’s goal. From then on, it was the hosts who enjoyed a plethora of attacking moves, stamping their authority on the match. Collieries could have opened the scoring on three minutes when Ben Hardcastle floated the ball to the back post. Mark Battersby headed the ball towards goal but it floated just wide with Litherland goalkeeper Sean Lake having been beaten. A saturated pitch would begin to struggle if it drizzled and on ten minutes a deluge hit downtown Atherton. For ten minutes the relentless rain put the remainder of the match in doubt as puddles formed in most areas of the pitch; the centre being the worst. Health and safety is given as a reason for calling matches off when pitches become waterlogged but as long as the match remained clean it would continue. There were eyebrows raised when Mark Truffas slid five metres along the pitch into a concrete post and even more when Brad Cooke and a Litherland defender clattered into the advertising boards but both teams got on with it. By this stage all the spectators had packed into every available area of shelter. The rain began to subside and Litherland’s defence was breached on 28 minutes. A cross from the right hand side found Mark Battersby on the edge of the box. The striker flicked the ball up and hammered it into the bottom right hand corner. Half time arrived and it allowed some much needed forking to be done by the makeshift grounds men. Fans and players joined forces to get rid of most of the surface water in time for the second half. An overhead rainbow suggested that we had seen the worst of the weather and we would see the contest through to its conclusion. Atherton emerged for the second half in a change kit having played in their 2012 home kit for the first half, opting to pull on this seasons shirts for the remainder. Poor Matty Boland mustn't have been able to find his second shirt as he returned on to the field of play caped in mud.  Collieries’ lead was doubled on 61 minutes when Battersby threw himself in front of a clearance from the Litherland goalkeeper. More often than not the ball will ricochet away from the goal but this one bounced straight into the goal and from then on Colls place in the next round was never in doubt. A minute later and their lead was further extended when Brad Cooke collected the ball at the edge of the area. He took a touch to steady himself before volleying the ball into the bottom left hand corner; nothing the goalkeeper could do to prevent that goal. That effort was unstoppable but the next more so. Lake was helpless to prevent a fourth a further minute later. Mark Battersby picked the ball up on the right hand side and dinked it to Matty Boland who was unmarked around 20 yards out. A side footed volley sent the ball straight into the top right hand corner and Alder House erupted. It was a goal which will never be done justice through words. There were further opportunities to extend the lead further including when Gareth Peet missed the target from less than a metre out, rolling the ball wide of the right hand post. Fortunately it didn’t matter and the better side on the day secured their place in the final. Highlight of the afternoon came with five minutes remaining when striker Jordan Cover was introduced. Within a minute of being involved he chased a ball out of play in front of the clubhouse and splashed the contents of a large trench over a number of unfortunate spectators (including his own sponsor).  Litherland worked hard but Collieries were in fine form and battled well on a pitch which prevented much football from being played. Again, a huge thank you to all those that helped the match take place and to everybody that turned up given the appalling weather conditions. The final will take place on Thursday 23rd April at Bootle FC. Collieries will take on AFC Darwen who beat Ashton Town 5-3 AET in the other semi-final. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Keith Wedge, Gareth Carson, Matthew Grimshaw (James Brooks), Kris Holt, Brad Cooke, Matty Boland (Jordan Cover), Mark Battersby, Mark Truffas (Gareth Peet), Ben Hardcastle - Substitutes: Josh Messer, James Brooks, Rob Swanton, Jordan Cover, Gareth Peet Litherland REMYCA: Sean Lake, Stephen King, Dean Siadanky, Karl Siadanky, Chris Lowe, Callum Webb, John Hastings, Jamie Colbourn, Connor Murphy, Colin McDonald, Daniel Duffy - Substitutes: Darren Carr, Louis Austin, Lewis Jones, David Flynn, Jamie Simms Attendance: 164 Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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