AFTER a goalless draw on Saturday, Colne went down fighting in a high-scoring FA Cup replay at Congleton on Tuesday night, losing 5-2.
The Reds played their part in an exciting game and came back strongly after looking down and out early on.
Colne got off to a disastrous start and conceded a goal after only three minutes when Michal Koral’s cross to the far post was headed home by James Marrow.
Paul Fildes had a chance to restore the balance seven minutes later, but blasted his angled shot over the bar, whilst at the other end Chris Thompson needed to make a good save to keep out Ryan Read’s pile driver after 14 minutes.
But Congleton doubled their lead after 18 minutes when Colne failed to clear a corner from their goalmouth and Ian Willis fired home from close range at the second attempt. Things got even worse after 26 minutes when Read ran at the Reds defence and found the net with a shot from 20 yards to give Congleton a three-goal lead.
Colne’s fightback began after 34 minutes when Fildes carried the ball from midfield and found Jason Hart in the area, who beat the defender and finished with a shot into the bottom corner. Four minutes later, the Reds struck again when Luke McVarish’s diagonal cross was dispatched into the top corner of the net by Hart’s glancing header.
A similar cross by McVarish minutes later was only inches out of Fildes reach as Colne pressed for an equaliser before the interval.
Although the Reds had high hopes at half-time, they received a setback just four minutes after the restart when a corner kick to the near post again gave them problems and Andrew Alston headed home for Congleton’s fourth goal.
On the hour, Paul Coote and Ashley Carter combined to set up Fildes, but his goal-bound shot brought a great save from Bear’s keeper Matthew Conkie.
And after 75 minutes, the home side stretched their lead even further when Koral finished off a good passing move on the right wing with a well-driven diagonal shot into the net.
Coote forced another good save from Conkie as Colne tried once again to reduce the deficit but the remainder of the game belonged to Congleton who ran out worthy winners on the night.
On Saturday, the initial tie ended 0-0 - although it was a game full of incident at the XLCR Stadium.
Micky Saunders set the pattern as he forced a great save from Congleton’s keeper Conkie in Colne’s first attack and the Reds dominated the opening stages.
After nine minutes, McVarish’s cross to the far post was headed just over the bar by Hart, and Hart blasted a volley just wide of goal after Mark Coyne had chested the ball down to him on 15 minutes.
Steve Pickup worked hard at the back with some vital interventions when Congleton threatened. But on the half hour, Colne keeper Thompson kept the scores level with an instinctive save from Chris Smith’s point blank header.
Saunders had the ball in the net after a good period of pressure by the Reds attack, but the flag was up for off-side.
And Conkie did well when he parried Dominic Craig’s firmly driven cross in the goalmouth and was in the right place to keep out Hart’s close range effort just before half time.
Early in the second half, Thompson denied Congleton with a brilliant save to keep out Koral’s shot from an excellent opening after the visitors had passed their way into the penalty area with some outstanding possession football. And after a good run by Curtis Gill, Geoff Basford saw his shot deflected inches over the Colne crossbar as the Bears looked dangerous in attack.
At the other end, Hart broke clear of the visitor’s defence after 68 minutes but his lob over the advancing keeper dropped just over the Congleton crossbar. And Ashley Carter and Coyne had heading opportunities in dangerous positions in the visitors’ goalmouth as Kieran Demaine prompted some good attacks from midfield.
Congleton attacked strongly and James Marrow headed a great chance over the Colne bar from Ryan Hughes’ cross to the far post.
But in the closing stages, Coyne looked sure to give Colne the lead when James Crorken’s cross reached him in the area but keeper Conkie made a great tackle to clear the ball. And minutes later, Conkie got down well at the near post to block Fildes’ close range shot after a penetrating run by the Reds striker, as the game went to a replay.
Colne travel to Maine Road tomorrow, before visiting Wigan Robin Park onTuesday evening.
• COLNE Chairman Dave Blacklock wishes it to be known that he has dispensed with the services of Reserve Team Manager Joe Licastri and that Licastri is no longer associated with the club.