The Groundhop UK juggernaut rolled into Atherton for their 11th (out of 13) match in an action packed Easter weekend and despite having to be up with the birds for the 11am kick off the Colls volunteers set about ensuring a good time was had by all. Old foes AFC Darwen were the visitors knowing a victory would inch them onto the cusp of Hallmark Security Premier Division survival while for Michael Clegg's crew maximum points would move them closer to unchartered territory. The line up was changed from Saturday's trip to 1874 Northwich with Matty Grimshaw, Darrhyl Mason, Johnny Gorman and Jordan Cover getting starting positions.Since the disappointing 1-0 home reversal to Runcorn Linnets the team had responded with four consecutive 2-1 triumphs. In the last three games the lads had fallen behind and had to show true bottle to get the wins. Playing for and watching the black n white stripes was not for the faint hearted.The majority of the home fans in the excellent crowd of 478 breathed a collective sigh of relief as early as the 3rd minute when their heroes took the lead. A dangerous ball was crossed into the corridor of uncertainty along the six yard box and defender Jamie Edwards unluckily deflected it into his own net under immense pressure from Mason.
Five minutes Jordan Cover thought he had doubled the advantage but the linesman's flag stifled the celebrations. The early goal had relaxed Colls and they were playing some exquisite footy. On 20 minutes Cover was brought down robustly just inside box, he dusted himself down to send the keeper the wrong way for his 25 notch of another prolific campaign.Darwen were trying manfully to get back into the game and crafted an opening but an attacker shot wide when he had a clear sight of goal. Cover had another couple of opportunities to score but somehow didn't add to his total. Colls were good value for the 2-0 half time lead.
Half time - Atherton Collieries 2-0 AFC DarwenWithin five minutes of the restart it was 3-0. Mason started the length of the field move after the Salmoners lost possession. He showed Speedy Gonzales like pace before releasing Cover whose pinpoint centre was prodded home by Vinny Bailey from close range. Mason was having the time of his life in what was undoubtedly his best Colls outing. Left back Gareth Peet set up the fourth on 67 minutes. He bombed down the flank, crossed and Cover applied the finishing touch at the far post. Three minutes later Cover completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot. With ten minutes remaining Darwen got a consolation. The industrious Nick Hepple got the goal his play deserved following his team's best move of the game. A fine display which gave the team a fifth win on the spin. All roads now lead to Winsford United on Saturday. The lads would like as many supporters there as possible to cheer them on. 3pm Ko.Team: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny (63' James Brooks), Gareth Peet, Vinny Bailey, Matty Grimshaw, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle (53' George West), Bradley Cooke (c) (53' Dave Sherlock), Jordan Cover, Johnny Gorman & Darrhyl Mason
Atherton Collieries FC would like to thank Groundhop UK for giving us the chance to be part of their inaugural NWCFL hop. Thanks to AFC Darwen for agreeing to come for a Easter Monday 11am Ko, Colls Youth for the school's poster campaign (and the Easter eggs) and everybody who attended the game.