Atherton Collieries opened their pre-season schedule with an unannounced friendly against Runcorn Town at Orford Jubilee Park in Warrington. The hosts, who finished 5th in the Premier Division last season would prove to be tough opponents but a mixture of hard work and organisation saw Colls win.
Collieries took 18 players to the match and all were used at some point. Further players were on holiday including winger Mark Truffas.
After having several encouraging pre-season sessions down at Bee Fold Lane, the management team and players were looking forward to their first match. The first half was slightly shaded by Atherton with a number of shots reigning down on the Runcorn goal.
Dylan Maloney - who was with Evo-Stik Premier side Droylsden last season - was in inspired form seemingly at the centre of the the majority of Colls attacking play.
Colls were very compact and rarely lost their shape. Gaz Carson was instrumental in defence and Andy Heald likewise in the centre of midfield.
The second half saw the introduction of Ben Hardcastle, Jordan Cover and midfielder from last season Jake Patton.
The deadlock was broken minutes into the second half when Patton floated a corner into Carson who headed in from close range.
Shortly after that, a well worked move saw Tom Shaw send a cross in for Cover. Depsite working space well, Cover couldn't steer his header past the Runcorn goalkeeper.
Halfway through the second period, Hardcastle found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. As we was setting himself to shoot, he was hacked down from behind. In the league this would have been a penalty and a red card, but the referee waved play on in the spirit of pre-season.
Encouraging signs from the Colls team, with a lot of players still to come back from their holidays. Next match is on Thursday when we take on AFC Monton at Eccles College.