Atherton Collieries recorded an impressive 2-0 away at local rivals Radcliffe Borough, thanks to goals from Marcus Cusani and Jay Fitzmartin.
A decisive Colls performance saw Radcliffe’s nine-game unbeaten run brought to an abrupt end, Brad Cooke’s team handing their Greater Manchester neighbours a first defeat of the year in some style.
Marcus Cusani’s goal-of-the-season contender gave Colls the lead, with the hosts’ Luca Navarro skying a penalty before Jay Fitzmartin’s strike sealed the points at the death.
Colls started the game firmly on the front foot, applying plenty of pressure to the Radcliffe backline who were forced to hack the ball out of the Neuven Stadium on a few occasions.
With few clear-cut chances, it took a piece of individual magic from Marcus Cusani to break the deadlock, the winger scoring a stunner on 35 minutes to give Colls the lead.
Clive Smith’s throw-in was cleverly flicked-on by Bailey Thompson into the path of Cusani, who’s dipping strike on the half-volley left Jack McIntyre without a prayer in the Radcliffe goal.
Radcliffe were almost gifted an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, Colls inviting pressure and giving away a soft penalty with Ollie Brown judged to have been to forceful against Jude Oyibo.
Luca Navarro stepped up for the hosts and after a slight delay blazed his spot-kick harmlessly over Mackenzie Chapman’s crossbar, ensuring Colls took their lead into the half-time break.
Gaz Peet was at his marauding best down the left-hand flank all night and saw a pair of credible penalty shouts waved away after the break, the fullback instead booked for his protests.
Joel Amado came close to extending the stripes' lead, his header resulting from a Colls corner thwarted by a flailing arm from Jack McIntyre in the Radcliffe goal.
With the home side pushing for an equaliser, the Colls back-five marshalled by captain Danny Lafferty defended resolutely, seeing Radcliffe resort largely to fruitless long-balls.
Nicky Adams went closest for the hosts, his late long-range drive flying wide of Mackenzie Chapman’s post before Arran Pettifer volleyed awkwardly wide at the end of flowing Colls counter attack.
With Colls looking set to see out a narrow victory, substitute Jay Fitzmartin rounded off a stylish victory, poking home at the far post after debutant Adam Haw’s pinpoint cross.
The late goal sent the travelling Colls supporters into raptures and the final whistle saw fans and players come together to celebrate a richly-deserved victory, as the season reaches it's most important stages.
Colls are back in action on Saturday as they welcome Marine to the Skuna Stadium. Kick off 3pm.
Colls: Makenzie Chapman, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Joel Amado, Danny Lafferty (C), Luca Hansen, Ben Hardcastle, Oli Brown (Arran Pettifer 60'), Bailey Thompson (Adam Haw 78'), Jack Lenehan, Marcus Cusani (Jay Fitzmartin 67'),
Unused: Ethan Kershaw, Adam Rooney
Colls Mon of the Match: Danny Lafferty (sponsored by Future Fitness Farnworth)
Report: Danny Brown
Photo: Dave Featherstone