A short Tuesday night trip to West Lancashire saw Atherton Collieries make their bow in the Integro Cup, the league cup competition for the entire Evo-Stik League, and Micheal Clegg's side secured an impressive three goal victory against their divisional rivals.
Attacking the clubhouse end of the ground, Colls started brightly with Gareth Peet and Ben Hardcastle both stinging the gloves of Skelmersdale goalkeeper Jack Sims while Rick Smith dragged a shot wide of the target. Thirty two minutes were on the clock before the hosts seriously threatened, although in fairness it was a very decent attempt on goal as Andrew Owens drove in a rasping free kick that Colls goalkeeper Adam Reid did well to tip over the crossbar. That particular flurry was to prove all too brief for Skem as they fell a goal behind three minutes later as Colls attacked down the left flank, Jordan Cover sending a cross to the right hand edge of the box to Darrhyl Mason who had the presence of mind to lay off a simple pass to Iain Howard who took a look, picked his spot and delivered an absolute beauty of a curling strike in to the top right hand corner of Sims' goal.
The visitors were well on top and nearly had a second goal four minutes later when Peet sent over a cross full of power and pace that superbly picked out Howard who nodded it back for Mason in an effort to return the assist from the first goal, only for Sims to do well to keep out Mason's headed effort. Colls weren't to be denied, however, and doubled their lead two minutes before the interval when Howard was once again the hero and again ably assisted by Mason who dribbled past two flying challenges on the right hand side before passing across goal for Howard to drill a terrific strike in to the top left corner of the net.
The second half saw Skelmersdale somewhat in the ascendancy without necessarily providing much of a goal threat, while Colls had a potential third goal disallowed shortly after the hour mark when Cover had the ball in the net, albeit a split second after the referee had blown the whistle for a foul on Skem's former Colls centre back Callum Jones.
The game became a little scrappy at times with Chris Lynch and Rick Smith both being booked for the visitors while Glenn Matthews was introduced from the Colls bench for his debut in black and white.
The icing was put on the cake with nine minutes remaining when Kristian Holt danced his way through the Skem defence before lifting the ball over Sims from close range to safely guide Colls through to the second round of the competition.
League action is back on the agenda this Saturday (21st October) when Goole make the long trip to the Kensite Stadium for a 3pm kick off.
Skelmersdale United; Jack Sims, Phil Mooney, Casey Reid, Mike Roddy, Liam Hollett, Callum Jones, Bevan Burey, Sam Crook (James Galloway 65'), Andrew Owens, Callum Mahoney, Harry Blackburn. Substitutes (not used); Arnie Baxendale, Rob Bourne, Alaster Redmayne, Razzaq Coleman-D'Graft
Atherton Collieries, Adam Reid, Chris Lynch (Brad Cooke 63'), Gareth Peet, Danny Lafferty, Jamie Forbes, Rick Smith, Darrhyl Mason, Kristian Holt, Jordan Cover (Ashley Woods 65'), Ben Hardcastle (Glenn Matthews 69'), Iain Howard. Substitutes (not used); Rob Sadler
Man of the Match - Iain Howard. With two goals like that, it had to be, didn't it?
Match report by Matt Lawton
Photograph by Ian Monk