Atherton Colls 1 GNE 1
A late equaliser prevented the Hillmen from registering a 6th successive victory on Saturday, and at the same time prevented them from taking top spot in the Evo-Stick North.
GNE might consider themselves unlucky, but perhaps they were guilty of trying to protect a slender lead too early - they were keeping the ball in the corners, with more than 5 minutes of regular time left on the watch.
The first half was best forgotten, and probably has been already by most in the ground. Both defences patrolled their 18 yard box stoutly and neither midfield could unlock them to create a chance of real note. Chris Baguley hit a shot over the bar, and Russ Saunders was forced to push a deep cross to safety from under his bar. The rest gave us nothing of note.
The opening ten minutes of the second half produced more action than the entirety of the first, first with Courtney Meppen-Walter shooting over, Callum Chippendale picking up a Kisamba Kisamba cut back but dwelling just a little too long and Chris Baguley’s long shot comfortably saved. At the other end Brad Cooke’s skiddy lot shot skipped off the surface and forced Saunders into a smart save and Ashley Wood’s shot from an angle also tested the Glossop keeper.
Then on 70 minutes the breakthrough came. Baguley lifted a free kick just into the Colls half into the box and Meppen-Walter got the feintest of touches on the ball, the lack of deflection on the ball deceiving the keeper as it nestled into the net.
10 minutes later Ben Hardcastle missed a good chance to level things up, heading wide at the back post, whilst at the other end Adam Jones headed over the bar. However, GNE’s attacking instinct left them and as they got more defensive, Colls picked up the pace, substitute Darrhyll Mason in particular causing issues down the left.
It was Mason who did the damage in the 85th minute, skipping down the left and getting a favourable bounce of the ball as he broke a tackle. He cut the ball back for Iain Howard, and the experienced striker swept the ball home from around the penalty spot.
On the back foot, GNE were suddenly under the cosh, and Saunders had to react sharply to tip Hardcastle’s shot over the bar and Mason again marauded down the left, cut inside, but put his shot over the bar. That was the last action, and a point a piece was just about right in the final analysis.