Report: Maine Road 0-1 Colls

Commeth the hour, commeth the man! That man was Bradley Cooke! Maine Road versus Atherton Collieries games are historically close affairs and this match was no different.  The hosts started the game in 12th place in the Hallmark Security League while Michael Clegg's team were hoping for a 13th league win in the last 14 outings to consolidate top spot. Colls tweaked their line up from the Runcorn Town game slightly with Matty Grimshaw, Vinny Bailey, Liam Wood and Mark Battersby coming into the starting XI. It had rained incessantly in the run up but there was never any doubt that the fixture was going to be a casualty and the game started at a frenetic pace with play swaying from end to end.  Road's talented right back Joel Senior shot wide from distance with Adam Reid beaten all end up before Johnny Gorman prodded wide at the far post from an excellent Ben Hardcastle centre. A minute later, Reid was forced into a close range save and he then breathed a sigh of relief as a cross whizzed across his six yard box only for a Road striker to tap wide. The hosts then missed another chance from close range when the centre forward could only direct a driven cross well over the crossbar. To cap a breathless opening fifteen minutes, Brad Cooke shot weakly into the keeper's hand from 12 yards out after being teed up by Mark Battersby. Proceedings then cooled as both teams tried valiantly to play football in testing conditions.  Colls fluffed a free kick into the box and within seconds Reid was forced into a fine one handed save at his near post after Road had broke at breakneck speed. Hardcastle then lofted in a cross which narrowly went over Battersby's head.  This was almost Battersby's last action of the game as he had to be replaced by debutant, on loan from Stockport County, George West after he had been unable to run off a knock.  The half ended goalless with Road edging it on points. Within minutes of the restart Matty Grimshaw's back header from a set piece narrowly missed the target and then over complication in the Colls defence was almost punished but somehow the target was missed from close range. Colls then started to take charge of possession with most of the game taking place in the Road half.  Half chances were created. Vinny Bailey showed proper skill in the opposition penalty box but decided to tee a colleague up when he could have been more selfish. Gorman's opportunist effort went narrowly wide and Bailey fizzed one over the bar.  Road were still looking lively on the break but the game seemed to be heading for a stalemate which in all honestly was the correct result. However, late in injury time Colls snatched it. The ball was worked to Mark Truffas on the left flank and he floated a dangerous ball towards the back post.  Captain Cooke timed his run to perfection and nodded in from the edge of the six yard box to instigate raucous celebrations from everybody involved with the football club. A never say die attitude by the Colls men which gave them their fourth 1-0 victory in their last six league appearances. Respect to Maine Road who have a talented youthful side and from the outside looking in it's hard to understand why they occupy a mid table position.  Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Gareth Peet, Vinny Bailey, Matty Grimshaw, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke (C), Mark Battersby (George West 40'), Johnny Gorman (Mark Truffas 74') & Liam Wood (Neil Chappell 60') Attendance: 158 Match report by Emil Anderson Photo by Rob Clarke

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