COLNE rediscovered their winning form with a well deserved victory against Squires Gate at the XLCR Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Reds fought hard for the three points and will be pleased to have kept a clean sheet with new keeper Chris Thompson making his second appearance in goal.
Thompson was called into action after only four minutes to save a close range shot from Chris Bennett when a cross reached him at the far post. But in an end-to-end first half, the industrious Micky Woodvine saw his shot blocked in the goalmouth, and a Michael Cruz cross came back off the bar before Bright Maduka shot wide from the rebound.
A good run and cross by Bennett gave Tom Bartlett a sight of goal, but the Squires Gate striker blasted the chance over. The visitors’ defence withstood some periods of pressure, but were finally beaten five minutes before half time when Danny Boyle’s wizardry on the bye-line created panic, and after a series of close range shots were blocked on the line, Dominic Craig fired home a diagonal shot inside the far post to give Colne the lead.
As the second half began, Squires Gate looked likely to equalise when Andy Richards broke clear, but Cruz made a vital last-ditch tackle to prevent him from scoring.
Colne looked for a second goal and Sam Hayes released Boyle down the right wing, but his cross just eluded Maduka at the far post. But Colne had a let-off after 67 minutes when Bennett saw his shot come back off the post after a run into the area.
Within two minutes, the Reds gave themselves a cushion. Maduka won the ball on the left wing and his low cross was knocked in at the near post by Mark Threlfall.
After 73 minutes, an end-to-end move looked sure to finish in a third goal for Colne when Boyle beat two defenders on a superb run, but Gate’s keeper Neil Beesley got down well to block his shot.
Squires Gate still threatened in flashes, with the speedy runs of Scott Harries testing the Colne defence. But the Reds kept up their momentum and got a deserved third goal in the closing minutes. Andy Tinker’s well-struck free kick from the edge of the area was on target, and central defender Tom Benfield could only help it into his own net to round off the scoring.
Colne will hope to continue to build on this result when they welcome Flixton to the XLCR Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m.), before travelling to Bacup on Wednesday (kick-off 7-45 p.m.).
On Saturday, Colne went out of the North West Counties League Challenge Cup, losing 3-2 at home to Ashton Athletic at the XLCR Stadium on Saturday.
Despite a grandstand finish when they threw everything at the visitors’ goal in 10 minutes of injury time, they were unable to find an equaliser.
The Reds conceded a goal after only two minutes when they failed to cut out a through ball and Danny White scored after rounding the keeper to give Ashton the lead.
Colne had the opportunity to get back on terms after 13 minutes when Boyle found space in the visitors’ box, but Ashton keeper, and former Red, Ross Baxter was out quickly to block his shot.
And Colne’s jittery defence gave away a second goal two minutes later when a ball into the area caused panic, and Jake Patton was left with an easy chance to fire home and double the visitors’ lead.
Colne worked hard to get back into the game and might have pulled a goal back just before half-time when Hayes cut into the penalty area from the right wing, but shot across the face of goal with only the keeper to beat.
The Reds stepped up a gear in the second half and Ben Bridson and Craig forced great saves from Baxter before Maduka reduced the deficit after 62 minutes with a superb run and finish.
But, as Colne looked for an equaliser, their defence once again failed to clear the danger from a corner and Chris Blundell forced home Ashton’s third goal in a crowded penalty area after 69 minutes.
Colne kept up the pressure on the visitors’ goal and five minutes later, Baxter conceded a free kick when he picked up a back pass inside his penalty area, but the Reds were unable to capitalise and Maduka blasted over the bar when the ball was laid back to him.
As Colne pushed forward, Baxter produced another top class save to push Hayes’ header round the post from Maduka’s cross.
But after 86 minutes, Threlfall’s through ball sent Boyle into the area and his cross to the far post was smashed into the roof of the net by Maduka for the Reds’ second goal.
Colne laid siege to the visitors’ goal in 10 minutes of injury time but Baxter again denied them with a great save from a Cruz shot that was bound for the bottom corner of the net.