It‘s 25 years since Atherton Collieries' best ever run in the FA Cup, making it to the 3d Round Qualifying before falling to Guiseley in October 1994. Guiseley themselves navigated the 4th and final qualifying round in style, beating Durham City 6-0 to host Carlisle United in front of over 6,500 people at their Nethermoor Park home. Colls left dwelling on what could have been.
Since then, we have only made the 2nd Round Qualifying two further times, in 2002 we were convincingly dispatched by Spennymoor United then in more recent times, we were edged out 1-0 at Ossett Town in 2017. Ossett were taken to a replay and penalties by 1874 Northwich and fell at the final hurdle themselves as Solihull Moors took that First Round Proper spot. We could only watch with envy as Hyde United, who we’d played weeks earlier in the league, hosted MK Dons at Ewen Fields live on the BBC.
Our opponents for the Preliminary Round clash this season are Runcorn Linnets, a club we know very well from previous encounters. Following our path out of the North-West Counties in 2018, after more than one near miss, we met in the league and also in the FA Trophy at the Skuna early last season. Although Colls were victorious in both games, they were remarkably both lit up by goal of the season contenders from Connor McCarthy. Although moving to Warrington Town soon after, the Linnets confirmed the return of the forward this week.
With Kris Holt leaving the Linnets over summer to join Brad Cooke’s West Didsbury & Chorlton and legendary forward Freddie Potter departing under a cloud, we face a somewhat remodelled team. Potter later signed at Rylands FC after spending part of pre-season at Colls. Leading the line for the yellow and greens this season is Jamie Rainford, the former Ramsbottom United man netting in both their league games this season thus far, a 2-1 loss at Mossley and 1-1 draw at home to our friends at Pontefract Collieries.
For Colls, Kieran Nolan is suspended following last week’s red card at Ashton United. With a bank holiday trip to Lancaster City in the offing, it remains to be seen if Micheal Clegg opts to start either Jordan Cover or Tom Bentham, both of whom are returning to full fitness.
Venue: The Skuna Stadium, M46 9EY
Competition: Emirates FA Cup, Preliminary Round
Admission: Adults £8 / Concessions £5 / 12-17 £2 / U12 £1 *FA rules