Report: Colls 4-1 Cammell Laird

Saturday's game against Cammell Laird 1907 was significant both on and off the field for the football club. The game was set aside as a ‘pay what you want’ extraordinaire, with all proceeds going to Combat Stress – a fantastic charity that works with those Soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, coming as a result of serving our country on the front line. The day’s proceedings opened with thoughtful reflection from all in attendance as the Kensite fell silent to remember those that fell in the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago. Committee men Kevin and Ricky worked hard to ensure the day was a success and they, as well as the whole Football Club, can be proud of their achievements. On the field it was simple. Win against a struggling Lairds side (who unfortunately finds themselves at the foot of the division), and the Colls would stay top in what is likely to be a very tight Premier Division. As Manager Michael Clegg mentioned, no team can afford to drop points. Therefore, Clegg would have been both disappointed and slightly anxious to see 1907 take the lead only eight minutes into the game. The ball was drilled across the face of the Collieries' goal for Danny Lomax to tap in on the far post despite hearty pressure from the Colls' defence. The Black n White Stripes had virtually not seen anything of the football at this stage. Colls were missing Gareth Peet, Mike Lea and Mark Truffas while the word on the street was that Lairds had made quite a few additions ahead of this game and actually found themselves with a squad much more capable of taking anyone on within the division – this made for quite a close and nervy opening 45 minutes. The game was 20 minutes old when a couple of half chances for the Collieries came and went. The normally ruthless Mark Battersby fired his shot straight into the palms of Ben Morrow in the 1907 goal. Minutes later, his effort from the tightest of angles tickled it's way past the post. It was at this point of the game Clegg found his side reduced to ten men, Brad Cooke was shown a straight red for what appeared to be a 50/50 challenge on the edge of the Lairds’s area. The home support within the Kensite found themselves bamboozled at the decision, many thought the referee was blowing for a Colls free kick. Either way Cooke gracefully made his way off the field with no arguments. The Colls knew that only 100% would do from this this point onwards. The opening 45 of this game was nothing more than a midfield battle. Both sides simply struggled to get past each other's defence. This was evident through the sheer ambitious nature of the efforts in goal. On 41 minutes, Lomax (clearly still confident from his earlier finish) fired a long range shot from 25 yards out that was just centre meters away from nestling into the top right hand corner of the goal. Just before the interval Jamie Forbes, in his best efforts to salvage a point going into the break, was himself denied from a header off a corner. The first half performance can go down as that of a poor one for the Colls, however, the second half was a complete juxtaposition as the 10 men in black and white came out fighting and completely dominated the half from start till finish. This was instantly evident as three minutes into the half the Collieries drew level. It was the strike partnership between Jordan Cover and Battersby that, not for the first time, nor the last time this season, created the goal. A pinpoint through ball from Cover split the defence and allowed Battersby to run through with glory in his wake, one on one with the Goalkeeper. Eight yards from goal, Battersby dinked the ball over the advanced stopper and watched as the ball lumbered over the line. A fine move, the Colls were level, and from this point dominated. Minutes later and it was Vinny Bailey's turn to have a pop. Once he had completed the hard work (negotiating his way into the area, Bailey twisted and turned his way through the back four) he fired the ball straight at the Morrow, yards from goal. Minutes later, Battersby gave Colls the lead. An in-swinging cross from substitute Dave Sherlock teased the Lairds' back four. They hadn't a clue how to deal with it, but Battersby did as he glanced home with ease on the far post. Ben Hardcastle was nigh on unplayable in the second period. His power, poise and pace were giving his markers a torrid time and after a couple of stray efforts he got his just rewards on 72 minutes. There's no two ways about it, his finish was of the highest quality. The winger zoomed down the right flank and skipped past what 1907 offered in the way of defence. As he came face to face with goal he clinically fired the ball into the roof of the net. An emphatic finish. Picking the man of the match for today's game would have not been an easy job for the Lairds' secretary. In the last embers of the game there was another name thrown into the ring - Jordan Cover. The pacey forward turned from provider to scorer for this one to cap a superb second half Atherton performance with a fantastic solo effort. Sherlock passed out from defence expecting the recipient to take ball into the corner to eat up time. Cover had not read this script as he curved his way around the 1907 back four, simply outrunning them in the process. Approaching from the left wing he continued his run until he was yards away from goal and the advancing Goalie. With precision and confidence he simply poked the ball underneath the keeper to secure a fine three points for the Collieries, despite playing most of the game with only ten men on the field. The Colls twitter feed called for a hero a half time to turn the game around. The whole team are heroes. Saturday 10th September 2016 will go down as a very proud day for the Football Club, both on and off the field. Atherton Collieries - Adam Reid, Jamie Forbes, James Brooks, Vinny Bailey, Matt Grimshaw, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Mark Battersby, Jordan Cover, Justin Pickering - Substitutes: Mark Ayres, Josh Messer, Jake Kenny, Dave Sherlock, Lewis Coleman Attendance: 221 Match report by Zach Pierce

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