Report: Squires Gate 3-4 Colls

Squires Gate 3 Atherton Collieries 4

For the second season in succession, Atherton Collieries returned from Squires Gate as victors by the odd goal in seven, in doing so moving within two points of leaders Runcorn Town at the top of the Hallmark Security League Premier Division. Although Colls held the lead from as early as the second minute right until the end, the hosts always had enough firepower to keep things interesting, with the Colls victory made all the more impressive given that they played for more than thirty minutes with ten men following the sending off of Jamie Forbes, with the black and whites even managing to add their fourth goal of the evening whilst a man short. Things started brightly for Micheal Clegg’s side in Blackpool and they were a goal in front after less than 90 seconds when Mark Truffas, who would end the evening with a hat trick of assists, played a promising ball forward for Ben Hardcastle, who beat one defender with a neat shimmy as he chested the ball down before bearing down on goal and stroking the ball past goalkeeper Benjamin Fletcher at the near post. The visiting lead was doubled in the twenty first minute when Truffas was again the provider, sending in an inswinging cross that wonderfully picked out the head of Jordan Cover in the penalty area and he made no mistake in beating Fletcher with a towering effort. Squires Gate halved the deficit on thirty three minutes when left back Jake Higham sent a neat effort in to the bottom left hand corner of Adam Reid’s net after the ball was laid off to him on the edge of the area, leaving Colls 2-1 ahead at the break. On what could be said to be the first truly chilly evening of the season so far, both sides took advantage of the crisp pitch and were keen to play a largely entertaining brand of passing football, and it was with a well worked effort that Colls went 3-1 ahead on 55 minutes when Truffas completed his triple effort of assists for the evening, sending in another right-footed inswinger from the left hand side, picking out Darrhyl Mason at the back post who headed the ball back across goal to set it up beautifully for Jordan Cover to hammer the ball past Fletcher. With Colls looking comfortable with a two goal advantage, it took only four minutes for that to be thrown in to doubt when Jamie Forbes was given a straight red card after coming out on top of a challenge with Higham that didn’t appear to be overly mistimed or out of control, with indeed Higham offering little in the way of protest having gone met Forbes’ attempts to win the ball with largely equal fervour. As it was, Colls faced more than half an hour with only ten men, sparking a degree of reorganisation with Truffas withdrawn from the fray to allow James Brooks to come and fill Forbes’ void at right back and allow Colls to return to a four defender formation. It took a while for the hosts to make use of their numerical advantage, but they managed to pull a goal back on 77 minutes when Brett Dawson managed to get a run on the Colls defence and peel away on to a through ball before lifting a delightful dink over the advancing Reid and in to the net. That comeback was particularly short-lived though as Colls appeared to clinch the points with ten minutes remaining when Fletcher struggled to effectively punch away a Matt Grimshaw header from a Hardcastle corner, with the ball being hooked back towards goal and to the feet of substitute Mark Battersby who made no mistake in lashing home a left-footed half volley from a few yards out. The hard work wasn’t quite completed though as Mark Buchan pulled the score back to 4-3 in the 92nd minute when he took advantage of a horribly miscued Reid clearance that fell at the feet of the ‘Gate front man who could do little else but roll the ball in to the unguarded net from the edge of the area. The ten men in black and white then faced a further anxious few minutes before the final whistle confirmed what could be prove to be an important victory ahead of a quick turnaround when Colls make the trip to eighth-placed Abbey Hey on Friday night (4th November, 7.45pm kick off). Atherton Collieries; Adam Reid, Jamie Forbes, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Danny Lafferty, Matt Grimshaw, Ben Hardcastle, Vinny Bailey (Brad Cooke), Jordan Cover (Mark Battersby), Darrhyl Mason, Mark Truffas (James Brooks). Subs (not used); Justin Pickering, Dave Sherlock Match report by Matt Lawton Photo by David Featherstone

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