Atherton Collieries battled to a 1-0 win away against Liversedge, Jay Fitzmartin’s impressive first half-strike making the difference as the hosts finished the game with ten men.
Looking to bounce back from a deflating midweek FA Cup defeat to Stocksbridge Town, Colls started the game brightly and saw a handful of chances in the early stages.
Young winger Jay Fitzmartin showed an impressive burst of pace on 5 minutes, latching onto a loose ball from midfield and attempting to round Jordan Porter in the Liversedge goal, the keeper recovering well to deny him from a tight angle.
Marcus Cusani saw a chance to take the lead moments later, a nice passing exchange with Aaron Smith giving the forward a sight of goal, however his initial effort was blocked and his second bite of the cherry was sent flying harmlessly wide of the mark.
Colls continued to find success playing their forwards in behind the defence, Scott Bakkor catching the keeper off his line on the half-hour mark and hooking a cross to Aaron Smith in the centre, the midfielder nodding his header inches wide with the goal gaping.
Despite the pressure from Colls, it looked as if the game would be goal-less at the break until a piece of individual magic from Jay Fitzmartin. Colls broke quickly from a Liversedge corner, Fitzmartin receiving on the left, cutting inside and placing a curling effort into the bottom far corner.
After the late first-half goal, Colls came out for the second half looking to sit back and hit Liversedge on the break. A burst down the left from Aaron Smith almost saw him tee up Jay Fitzmartin for his second goal, however the there wasn't enough pace on the ball and the keeper managed to collect.
Colls chances of a victory were given a boost in the 70th minute, as Liversedge's Ben Atkinson received his marching orders for a late challenge in the Colls' half. Despite the man disadvantage, the home side pushed on following the red card and looked more likely the score in the late exchanges.
A barrage of corners and free kicks into the box followed, with Joel Amado and Luca Defreitas-Hansen standing firm against the onslaught. There was a sigh of relief for Colls in the 88th minute, as a Liversedge effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing clear.
Despite a nervy final few minutes, the referee's whistle eventually sounded and saw Colls record a richly-needed victory away from home, following a disappointing run of form. Colls are back in action on Tuesday 13th September as they welcome Nantwich town to the Skuna Stadium.
Report: Danny Brown
Photo: Dave Featherstone