The weekend before Christmas is notorious for low crowds due to the rush to get shopping done... and the cold weather of course. The latter wasn’t an issue as the country basked in what is being tipped to be one of the warmest December’s on record. Away from the shops 142 spectators watched a comprehensive victory for Collieries in the rugged and pleasant surroundings of the Aire Valley.
The previous meeting between the two sides saw Atherton win 7-2. Despite this, Collieries were taking nothing for granted against a strong and determined Silsden team.
No sooner had the match kicked off, the visitors were on the attack as they searched for an early goal. Collieries strength and skill in midfield proved too much for Silsden during large periods of the game with Brad Cooke and Gareth Peet being pivotal performers.
Mark Battersby opened the scoring after four minutes when he was set up by a fantastic long ball from Matt Grimshaw. The striker took the ball down and raced towards goal before he rounded goalkeeper Daniel Thorpe, slotting the ball into an empty net from a tight angle.
Battersby continued to cause the Silsden defence a lot of problems as they failed to contain him. Cooke and Battersby linked well on the half hour mark, with the latter firing an outside of the foot shot towards the top right hand corner where Thorpe pulled off a fantastic save.
A minute later Cooke was involved again when this time he set up Ben Hardcastle on the right hand side. The winger burst towards the byline and pulled the ball across the face of goal where nobody could apply the finishing touch that would have doubled Collieries’ lead.
On 36 minutes, Jake Kenny took a throw in and played a quick one-two with Battersby. As the Silsden left back pressured Kenny he swung in a precise ball to the near post where Kristian Holt collected and volleyed towards goal. Once again, Thorpe pulled off a great save to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Two minutes later and the incessant bombardment of the Silsden backline continued. Dave Sherlock played in Hardcastle who fired the ball towards the bottom left hand corner. It looked to be heading in, but again, Thorpe somehow tipped the effort around the post.
A quick goal kick was taken by Thorpe, allowing Silsden to hit Colls on the break. Moving forward with numbers the home side were unfortunate not to take the lead. The Silsden attacker found himself one-on-one with Danny Taberner who pulled off a save, but the ball made its way back to the striker. Everybody in the ground thought the score was going to be brought level, but somehow Matt Grimshaw put in a goal saving last ditch challenge to steer the ball away from goal. While Mark Battersby deservedly receives plaudits for his work up front, displays such as the ones put in by Grimshaw and Jake Kenny in this match should not go unnoticed.
Half time arrived and Collieries could be happy with their performance so far, while Silsden would have been hoping to cause more problems for the visitors in the second half.
The fine rain that soaks you through was drifting in through the valley making the pitch claggier than in the first half. This arguably suited Colls as the ball held up well down the wings.
Some members of the Colls Crazy Gang were still sat in the luxurious clubhouse when the lead was doubled on 56 minutes. Great play in midfield saw the ball squared to Mark Battersby. His effort was blocked and Gareth Peet was on hand to drive the loose ball through the goalkeepers legs and into the back of the net. This seemingly gave Peet more confidence as he burst forward to act as an extra attacker for the remainder of the half, putting in a man of the match performance.
On 67 minutes, Peet took an outswinging corner from the left hand side. Mark Battersby rose highest at the front post, and glanced a powerful header just wide of the right hand post. Collieries were now becoming dominant.
James Kirby was introduced to play, following a long spell on the sidelones. He came close to scoring within a couple of minutes when goalkeeper Daniel Thorpe spilled a Mark Battersby effort. Kirby gained control of the ball, rounding Thorpe before being unable to steer the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Gareth Peet performed an unbelievable winding run with three minutes remaining of normal time. He picked the ball up on the left and cut inside three defenders before hammering a shot at goal. Thorpe parried the ball out for a corner; another fine save.
Jacob Jones had been brought on down the right hand side in place of Ben Hardcastle, and it was the substitute who set up the final goal of the game. He played a precise through ball down the wing to Mark Battersby who in turn ran at Thorpe and lobbed the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper. A Silsden defender raced back to try to prevent the goal, but he couldn’t get there in time as he slid into the goal just behind the ball.
Silsden had a couple of opportunities late on and could have scored, which would have certainly made the final few moments interesting.
It was a comfortable victory for Michael Clegg’s side who were happy to get a match under their belts ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled match at Newton Aycliffe. All players can be pleased with their performance and will go into the next match full of confidence and in high spirits.
Thanks to all at Silsden for their hospitality and best of luck for the remainder of the season.
Silsden: Daniel Thorpe, Joe Garside, Elliott Scott, Joseph Mitchell, Elliot Firth, Kevin Ryan, Jack Brooks, Charles Collinge, Wayne Morrison, Christopher Wademan, Oliver Hunter - Substitutions: Andrew Spencer, Luke McCrum, Thomas Henderson, Adam Hartley
Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Mark Battersby, Dave Sherlock, Kristian Holt - Substitutions: Keith Wedge, Mark Truffas, Jacob Jones, Jordan Cover, James KirbyAttendance: 142 Man of the Match: Gareth Peet Match report by Joseph Gibbons