For the first away sojourn of 2023, the Collieries made the relatively short journey to Tameside in the form of Hyde United. The Tigers entered the game positioned on the second rung of the league ladder and had administered six of the best to Ashton United in their previous outing. Brad Cooke’s boys were priced high by the notoriously benevolent bookies to return to downtown Athy with maximum points. A coupon buster ensued.
The Colls squad was down to it’s bare bones. Four subs were named but fifty percent of those named were there purely for puffing out the teamsheet purposes. Ethan Kershaw, Jay Fitzmartin and Marcus Cusani returned to the starting line up in place of Gareth Peet, Jack Lenehan and Bailey Thompson.
Colls started brightly on what can be best described as a bowling green. The head banded Luca Defreitas-Hansen had a header just miss the target as he looked to maintain his Ewan Fields goal a game average. Their kid, Nico then proved his value between the sticks as pure reflexes denied the hosts taking the lead on a number of occasions. Bailey Thompson replaced the combative Ollie Brown on the half hour mark, this was sandwiched between two Cusani cautions which threatened to turn the game upside down.
The first caution was for failing to retreat at a free-kick. Officials are ultra keen on this at the moment, it must be the current hot topic at Referee HQ. The second nail in the coffin was for a mistimed challenge knee deep in Tigers territory. Nothing malicious, but Marcus was on the radar and off he popped. Manager Cooke hoofed a water bottle to relieve some pressure before getting his team re-organised. Unbelievably, they led in first half additional time.
The impressive Arran Pettifer drove through a chasm in the Hyde midfield and fed Thompson at the right time whose daisy-cutter from twenty yards or so arrowed into the far corner of the goal. Cue, unexpected and delirious celebrations from a noisy minority in the ground.
The second stanza promised to be another steep learning curve for the Atherton young guns. They rose to the challenge majestically. Unexpectedly, the home side bossed possession and virtually camped themselves in the half of the ten men. They came up against a blue brick wall mind, and seemed to resort to pumping balls into the box. A cocktail of fine Nico handling, imperious headed clearances and wayward finishing put the Colls on the cusp of an improbable victory.
Of course, it was not to be as on 79 minutes, super sub Edy Maieco equalised within seconds of his introduction. Colls didn’t flinch, continuing their heroic rearguard action. Led by talisman Scott Bakkor, they even did some attacking but were too exhausted to fashion anything of note. Bakkor and Luca were led off the pitch before full time as the team finished depleted but unbroken. A true gladiatorial performance. A proud day to be a Colls fan. The steadily growing away support were dwarfed by the enthusiastic home faithful but were no less passionate. They sang their growing but still rather limited repertoire throughout and lauded their heroes veraciously after the game. On Saturday the Colls host Liversedge. KO 3pm. Let’s get behind the lads. Colls: Nico Defreitas-Hansen, Clive Smith, Joel Amado, Oli Brown (Bailey Thompson 32’), Danny Lafferty, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Arran Pettifer, Scott Bakkor, Jay Fitzmartin (Adam Rooney), Marcus Cusani Man of the Match: Arran Pettifer, Sponsored by Safe Hands Goalkeeping Attendance: 721