Report: Coppull United 1-7 Atherton Collieries

Atherton Collieries travelled to West Lancashire Premier Division side Coppull United for their second match of pre-season. United finished 7th in their respective division last campaign and rounded off the season by winning the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield against CMB. First team manager Michael Clegg was not able to attend this fixture as he was off to watch Ed Sheeran perform at Wembley Stadium. Assistant manager Warren Jones was on holiday as was player coach Andy Heald. Scott Campbell took on responsibility of the team for the afternoon, saying “You need me but I don’t need you.” As spectators arrived at the ground Campbell could be heard muttering the team lineup but he assured the players who we warming up that he was just "Thinking Out Loud." Rolling substitutions were in use for this match which became a worrying thought when Collieries raced into a five goal lead before the interval without making a change. The first opportunity of the match saw Mark Battersby flick a long ball on to his fellow striker Jordan Cover. Racing clear of the last defender he carried the ball towards goal before firing the ball well wide of the target. Collieries continued to pass the ball around very well on a pristine pitch and it wasn’t long before they deservedly took the lead. Jordan Cover closed down the goalkeeper which saw the ball bounce out to the flank where further pressure from Mark Battersby saw the Coppull left back surrender possession. A cross was sent in and the ball fell to Josh Messer on the edge of the area who hammered the ball into the bottom right hand corner on the half volley. Two minutes later and the ball was in the back of the Coppull net again. Gareth Peet travelled down the right hand flank and crossed the ball into Jordan Cover. The striker brought the ball down, pivoted on the spot and hit the ball past the helpless goalkeeper. There were injury worries for Collieries on 18 minutes when defender Gareth Carson went down with a head injury. With physio Ben Ash not making the journey to Coppull it was down to Brad Cooke – who joined Scott as a coach for the afternoon - to provide his expertise. While most physios and medical staff would check for concussion and blurred vision, Brad strolled over, assessed the scene and squirted a bottle of water over the stricken defender. Jordan Cover missed another one-on-one opportunity on 24 minutes in an almost identical chance to the one he fluffed in the opening minutes. Fortunately the score line was added to a minute later due to great work from left back Nathan Battersby. He carried the ball forward and played it into Mark Battersby who took his time and curled the ball into the top right hand corner. Collieries further extended their lead less than a minute later when Jordan Cover ran on to a precise through ball. With a defender breathing down his neck he hit the ball low and hard at the goalkeeper and it crept through his legs into the bottom right hand corner. The home side still offered very little in the way of attack and found it hard to keep possession of the ball. They earned themselves a couple of corners but these failed to test a comfortable Colls defence. Jordan Cover came close to claiming his second of the afternoon on 39 minutes when he lobbed the goalkeeper but his shot bounced off the crossbar and out for a goal kick. As half time approached a misplaced pass from a Coppull defender saw Mark Battersby and the goalkeeper go head-to-head to claim possession. As the goalkeeper stretched to avert danger Battersby nipped in and his touch which took the ball away was also enough to take it over the line and into the net. It had been a fantastic half for Collieries and without sounding condescending to Coppull the 5-0 score line flattered the hosts. Half time – Coppull United 0-5 Atherton Collieries Collieries started off the second half as they finished the first and continued to pass the ball around with fluidity and confidence. Coppull, much to their credit, grew into the game and began to push forward a bit more. Eight minutes into the half Colls scored another goal. Jordan Cover was fed down the right hand side and he carried the ball towards the corner flag. The striker turned and pulled the ball back to Mark Battersby who curled the ball into the top left hand corner with a first time effort. The best goal of the match came on 58 minutes through Gareth Peet. He dribbled past one Coppull defender, flicked the ball over another and in the same move volleyed the ball past the goalkeeper into the far corner. It was like watching Matt Le Tissier. Coppull pulled a consolation goal back on 70 minutes when a fantastic cross was met at the far post with an equally impressive header. Atherton continued to press forward but were unable to add to the scoring thanks to some brilliant goalkeeping from the second half stopper. On a number of occasions he clawed the ball off the line and tipped efforts around the post. In truth, the match should have seen Colls rack up double figures but nothing can be taken away from a fantastic team performance against a well organised side. It will certainly be a confidence booster ahead of Monday night's Bolton Hospital Cup tie against Tempest United. Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Keith Wedge, Nathan Battersby, Josh Messer, Gareth Carson, Luke Gibson, Mark Truffas, Ahmed Sulay, Mark Battersby, Jordan Cover, Gareth Peet – Substitutions: Jake Kenny, Matt Grimshaw, Kristian Holt, Wes Bancroft, Ben Hardcastle Match report by Joseph Gibbons

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