Atherton Collieries' preparations for the new Evo-Stik League Division One West season continued with a thumping victory as opponents Euxton Villa were comprehensively put to the sword with Micheal Clegg's visitors scoring six second half goals against their West Lancashire League Premier Division hosts. Fresh from Saturday's comfortable 3-0 home victory over North West Counties League side Prestwich Heys, Colls travelled up the M61 to take on an Euxton side who finished fourth in last season's West Lancashire League Premier Division and had prepared a billiard table of a pitch that was more than condusive to an attacking style of passing football that made for an attractive game on a pleasant summer's evening in rural Lancashire.
The first opening of the evening saw Ben Hardcastle deliver a raking cross-field ball that was perfectly placed to draw the goalkeeper out of goal but close enough for Conor Gaul to win the race to the ball, only to nudge his first time effort narrowly wide of goal. It would, however, only take a further six minutes for Colls to open the scoring, a lovely one touch passing move culminating in Vinny Bailey laying it on a plate for Adam Farrell to finish neatly.
A second goal of the evening would soon follow for Farrell, half-volleying home Devon Golden's low cross from six yards out on 34 minutes, leaving the visitors with a two goal half-time lead.
Only six minutes of the second half had passed before Colls added a third goal, Gaul doing well to beat the offside trap - just as he'd threatened to do so on a couple of first half occasions - and poke the ball in to the bottom corner when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Euxton pulled a goal back on 55 minutes when goalkeeper Greg Hartley was beaten by a cross from the right hand side being diverted in to the net via an unfortunate touch from a Colls defender.
The three goal advantage was restored within eight minutes though, Gaul crossing from the right hand side on sixty three minutes for substitute Tom Bentham to slide the ball home at the back post, with Bentham forcing a smart double save from the Villa goalkeeper shortly afterwards.
Gaul added his second goal - and Colls fifth - of the evening on sixty six minutes, Bailey playing a ball through for substitute Jordan Cover to collect and tee up Gaul, who showed neat footwork to evade one challenge on the edge of the box and blast the ball in to the top corner of the net.
Cover had a goal of his own to show for his efforts on seventy minutes, nipping on to a ball through and showing quick feet to dribble round the goalkeeper and roll the ball in to the empty net in only two separate touches of the ball.
Three minutes later and Colls had a seventh goal, Ben Hardcastle cutting inside from the left hand flank and breezing past a would-be tackler before unleashing a ripping shot in to the top corner, with the rout completed on eighty five minutes when Cover completed his double, heading the ball in to an empty net after the goalkeeper had parried away Tom Bentham's initial effort.
Colls are back in pre-season action this coming Saturday (28th July) when they visit North West Counties League newcomers Wythenshawe Town for a 1.30pm kick off before making the short journey to Daisy Hill the following Monday (30th July, 7.45pm). Atherton Collieries: Greg Hartley, Devon Golden, Danny Lafferty, Ian Rowlands, Gareth Peet, Vinny Bailey, Josh Peet, Ben Hardcastle, Luke Giverin, Conor Gaul, Adam Farrell. Substitutes (all used): Glenn Matthews, Tom Bentham, Dave Sherlock, Josh Messer, Danny Lambert, Jordan Cover, Ben ConwayGoal(s): Adam Farrell (20', 34'), Conor Gaul (51', 66'), Tom Bentham (63'), Jordan Cover (70', 85'), Ben Hardcastle (73') Match report: Matt Lawton
Photograph: Ian Monk