Colne kick-started their season with an 3-1 win at Ashton Athletic on Tuesday night - thanks to a hat trick by Jason Hart - following their last-gasp 2-1 defeat in Saturday’s opening game at home to St Helens Town.
At Ashton, boss Nigel Coates (pictured) stuck to a similar line-up to Saturday’s game and his confidence in his side was rewarded.
The Reds began the game with some positive attacking in the opening stages and after six minutes, James Crorken’s good long ball down the left sent Hart on a run into the penalty area, only to be upended by Ashton’s Callum Jones.
The referee awarded the penalty without hesitation, and Hart fired in the spot kick to give Colne the lead.
Ed O’Neill supplied an excellent ball down the right wing for Hart, whose cross to Micky Saunders was laid back to Dominic Craig, but his 25-yard shot flew wide of the target.
Ashton forced their way back into the game and created a series of chances in a good period for the home side.
But Chris Thompson and his defence weathered the storm, with Thomas Fowler and Steve Pickup making some vital clearances from the Reds’ goalmouth under pressure.
After 20 minutes, at the other end, Fowler came close to doubling Colne’s lead when he met Ashley Carter’s corner with a firm header that flew inches over the bar.
And five minutes later, Mark Coyne had the ball in the net with a far post header from Craig’s cross but the goal was disallowed for pushing.
On the half hour, Ashton’s Daley Woods made a 50 yard penetrating run into the Colne penalty area and only a timely intervention by Fowler prevented his cross in the goalmouth from providing a scoring opportunity for a team-mate.
But after 36 minutes, an Ashton defender’s pass across the edge of his own penalty area was intercepted by Hart who drew the keeper before slotting the ball past him into the net to double Colne’s lead.
As the second half began, Saunders’ through ball set up a good chance for Hart but Ashton keeper Chris Brinksman managed to block his shot at the expense of a corner.
And after 57 minutes, Coyne found himself in the clear from Fowler’s long ball but pulled his shot wide of the far post.
After 74 minutes, Coyne again slipped through the home defence and was brought down by Anthony Dunne for Colne’s second penalty. Hart stepped up to complete his hat-trick from the spot and give the Reds a 3-0 lead.
In the closing stages, Paul Fildes’ cross from the bye-line found Saunders in front of goal but Brinksman made a point blank save to deny the Reds striker. And with only a minute left, it was Ashton who found the net when Woods headed home a free kick for a consolation goal for the home side.
On Saturday, Colne conceded a late goal and let the points slip in their first game of the season at the XLCR Stadium against St Helens.
St Helens shocked the Reds by taking the lead after only 10 minutes when Steve Edwards found the net with a low diagonal shot into the bottom corner. The goal came against the run of play, as Colne had made a promising start and were looking confident with a series of good passing moves and attacking build-ups.
But the Reds had a lucky escape after 24 minutes when Edwards crashed a header against the crossbar with the home defence stranded by Lee Crompton’s cross from the bye-line.
At the other end, Jimmy Crorken shot narrowly wide in a series of raids on the visitors’ goal. And as Colne increased the pressure towards half-time, they produced the breakthrough. After 40 minutes Dominic Craig lined up a shot before blasting the ball into the top corner of the net from 20 yards for the equaliser.
The Reds felt they should have had a penalty in their next attack when Jason Hart was pushed to the ground from behind in the area, but the referee waved play on. Tom Fowler headed wide at the far post from Ashley Carter’s free kick and another free kick by Hart was blasted just over the bar as Colne came in level at the interval.
The Reds piled on the pressure in the second half but their frontrunners were too often caught offside. Chances fell to Paul Fildes but he saw his best attempt blocked by the keeper after racing clear on a long through ball and striking a first time half volley. Hart failed to control the ball in a great position on the edge of the area and Carter was inches away from Hart’s cross in another attack.
Paul Coote had a great chance to win the game for the Reds after 84 minutes when he met Craig’s cross at the far post but powered his header inches over the visitors’ bar. And two minutes later, Colne paid the price when a headed clearance at the other end fell to Saints defender Craig Fitzjohn who blasted in an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area for his side’s winning goal.
Colne begin their FA Cup campaign with a home game against Congleton Town in the Extra Preliminary Round tomorrow, with a 3 p.m. kick-off. Providing no replay is required, they will then host Silsden on Tuesday with a 7-45 p.m. kick-off.