Atherton Collieries pulled off a dramatic 1-0 win over title-chasers Matlock Town after a heroic performance at The Proctor Cars Stadium.
The Colls put in an impressive performance, despite losing captain Danny Lafferty early in the first half. Aaron Smith eventually netted the winner in the 90th minute, sparking wild celebrations among the travelling Colls faithful and completing the league double over the Derbyshire side.
The first chance of the afternoon fell to the hosts, Matlock's Hughes testing Taberner early with a shot from just outside the area. There were worrying scenes as Colls captain Danny Lafferty limped off in the 20th minute following a nasty-looking fall, replaced by Marcus Cusani.
Despite the home side dominating possession, Colls makeshift defensive stood firm, shifting the ball up the pitch quickly when won. Matlock's Hannah went closest before the break, scooping his effort narrowly over the bar and ensuring the sides went into half time goalless.
With both sides tweaking their formations for the second half, Colls saw Marcus Cusani pushed up the pitch to form a four-pronged attack along with Aaron Smith, Matty Gillam and Zack Clarke with midfielder Scott Sephton dropping seamlessly into the defensive back three.
Danny Taberner, imperious between the sticks in the second half, pulled off the save of the game shortly after the break, diving at full-stretch to turn Hughes' goalbound effort wide. A series of Matlock corners followed, more than matched by defence and goalkeeper to thwart any effort on goal.
The best chance of the game came for Colls in the 66th minute, Zack Clarke beating his defender for strength and racing through one-on-one. The resulting shot was blocked by onrushing Matlock keeper, who managed to dive on the resulting rebound before Clarke could pounce.
Counter-attacking proved effective for Colls, Aaron Smith seeing a shot fly well over before a fierce Matty Gillam strike had to be tipped over by the keeper. Marcus Cusani tore down the right-hand flank with fifteen minutes to go but his low effort lacked the power to find the bottom corner.
Matlock's Marshall saw a close-range effort blocked off the line in the 82nd minute, the follow-up effort blasted well over the bar. Signs of frustration were beginning to show for the hosts, with Hughes and Hawkridge both going into the book, along with Kershaw for the visitors.
The decisive moment came with less than a minute left on the clock, Matty Gillam breaking through the middle and slipping it wide to Marcus Cusani, showing great awareness to square for Aaron Smith. The defender stumbled and Smith poked it home from close-range to snatch the win.
With a hefty five minutes of injury time added on, Colls continued to defend resolutely, Taberner once again on-hand to tip a last gap Matlock effort over the bar. The final whistle prompted jubilant scenes among the Colls support and players, who's performance richly deserved their victory.
Colls: Danny Taberner, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Scott Sephton, Danny Lafferty (Marcus Cusani 20') , Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw, Jack Lenehan, Zack Clarke, Matty Gillam, Aaron Smith
Unused subs: Jack Griffin, Ryan Katumba, Tyler McCarthy
Man of the Match: Aaron Smith (Sponsored by MPD Building Consultants)
Photo: Dave Featherstone
Report: Danny Brown