Colne climb up to third

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TWO fantastic wins over the week have elevated Colne to third in the North West Counties League Premier Division.

On Saturday the Reds beat Ashton Athletic 4-2 in a roller-coaste of a game, before producing their best performance of the season so far on Tuesday to sink title favourites Ramsbottom.

Ramsbottom started brightly and tested keeper Jamie Scott with a number of shots from outside the area.

However, Colne soon got into their stride and had a purple patch of play when only the home keeper stopped the Reds from taking the lead, saving well from Michael Cruz and then palming a Danny Boyle cross shot around the post.

After 36 minutes the pressure told when an inch-perfect corner from the cultured left foot of Joe Garvin was powered home into the top corner by the head of Billy Priestley.

The Reds played out the remainder of the first half on the front foot, prompted by an energetic midfield of Cruz and Crorken.

Manager Nigel Coated must have been pleased with the first half performanc,e but could they maintain those energy levels for 90 minutes?

The expected Rammy second half pressure failed to materialise as Colne stroked the ball about confidently and with purpose, looking to hit the home side on the break at every opportunity.

Mark Threlfall went close on a couple of occasions, then from another pin-point Garvin cross, a Priestley flick was heading for the bottom corner only for the keeper to pull off a stunning save and tip the ball round the post for a corner.

The Reds’ defence continued to keep the home attack at bay, and despite the odd scare, looked confident and in full control.

They confirmed their superiority after 85 minutes when they bagged a second goal.

An in-swinging corner was only half cleared, and captain Cruz knocked the ball to the far post where Sam Hayes ghosted in to head the ball home.

Substitute Andrew Tinker nearly got in on the act, turning his marker to hammer home a pile driver which whizzed past the post with the keeper beaten.

The home side became more and more frustrated with their lack of progress, and after having a goal rightly disallowed for off-side, were reduced to 10 men.

Colne saw out the remaining few minutes minutes to record a massive victory at the pre-season title favourites.

That followed Saturday’s 4-2 win at home to a rejuvenated Ashton Athletic, who included in their ranks former Colne players Steven Cunningham, Ross Baxter and Lee Barratt.

An early shot from Neil Stansfield from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner.

Shortly after, a long range shot from Garvin nearly caught out goalkeeper Baxter, with the ball landing on the roof of the net.

Colne took the lead on 11 minutes when the ball was played was played out to the right wing. Danny Boyle took on and beat the full back, his cut back being dummied by Stansfield to leave Cruz to fire into the bottom corner.

Colne doubled this advantage shortly after, when Ashton lost the ball in midfield. The ball was picked up by Threlfall, who shot across the keeper, and the ball hit the post and bounced out for Hayes, who bundled the ball home.

The Reds looked to press home their advantage when a Garvin thunderbolt was tipped round the post by the keeper at full stretch. Ashton then pulled a goal back, against the run of play on 37 minutes when Kristian Branasco coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

The second half began cagily, and the first chance came after 60 minutes when a Stansfield cross flashed across the six-yard box.

Ashton gained the upper hand, and a free kick from the left was deflected by a Colne player, only for keeper Jamie Scott to make a magnificent instinctive save to tip the ball for a corner.

Colne then broke, and Danny Boyle burst onto a through ball, only to be forced wide by the keeper and he fired wide.

Possession passed to Ashton and an attack down the right wing saw them hit the post.

The game became very stretched, and as Ashton lost the ball on the edge of the area, a Stansfield cut back was flashed over the bar by Threlfall.

Ashton missed a golden chance to equalise when after 75 minutes a right wing cut back was blazed over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Ashton then deservedly drew level when a ball over the defence deceived Scott and Barratt knocked home the ball.

Ashton continued to pepper the Colne goal, and only Scott’s agility stopped Colne falling behind.

Colne then regained the lead when a right wing corner was headed on by Priestley at the near post and deflected into the net for an own goal.

As Ashton searched for an equaliser, they were caught out again when a ball in midfield was flicked on by substitute Bright Madduka for Threlfall to outmuscle the defender and slot into the bottom corner to make the score 4-2.

The Reds are next in action tomorrow with a re-arranged home fixture at the XLCR Stadium against Alsager.

• COLNE Reserves earned a hard-fought and deserved draw against Conference level Fleetwood Reserves at the XLCR Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday.

Colne made a bright start, and after 10 minutes a ball over the top by Nathan Gibson released Joe Walker who had made an excellent run, but under pressure could only shoot wide.

Another opportunity came to the Reds when the ball broke in midfield and Ben Bridson found Walker again, whose lob just cleared the bar.

Fleetwood had their first opportunity on 25 minutes when James Kenyon did well to parry a shot wide for a corner.

Three minutes later the visitors took the lead when a right wing corner was powered home by the centre half.

Fleetwood then enjoyed the bulk of the play, but Colne almost equalised on the stroke of half-time when a magnificent ball out of defence by Gibson released Walker, who skilfully laid the ball off to a rampaging Dom Craig, who released Daniel Russell, but his one on one opportunity was well saved by the visiting keeper.

Again Colne started brightly after the break, and after 47 minutes Craig made a good run and then saw his shot parried by the keeper.

Walker again made space from a clever header by Keiran Demaine, only to see his shot drift wide.

Colne equalised when Sam Reeves’ great free kick was met in the six-yard box by Walsh to side foot past the keeper.

Fleetwood’s first meaningful attack of the second half should have seen them take a two-goal lead when Kenyon parried the ball, only to see the on-rushing forward bundle the ball wide at the far post.

Walker was again involved in the action when the diminutive forward met a left wing corner and his powerful header was pushed over the bar by an alert Fleetwood keeper.

In the last minute Colne appealed for a goal when, from a right wing corner, the ball pinged about in the area, but the Reds’ claims that the ball had crossed the line were turned down by referee Ainsworth.

The final action of the game saw Fleetwood make a quick break, but fortunately they were caught off-side to leave the scores level.

After the game manager Chris Davies expressed his delight in the battling performance and four hard-won points to start the campaign.