Colne stay in the hunt after superb win at leaders Atherton Collieries

Josh Hine scores Colne's equaliser at Atherton
Josh Hine scores Colne's equaliser at Atherton

Colne faced their toughest test so far this season with a trip to league leaders Atherton Collieries on Saturday, and came away with the three points despite going a goal behind on the hour.

The Reds once again matched their opponents with some outstanding midfield play and had keeper Hakan Burton in great form between the sticks.

Atherton made the better start and threatened with some good attacks in the opening stages but their shooting failed to trouble Burton.

Colne settled into the game after the first 15 minutes, and began to find gaps in the home defence with Alex Curran and Mamadou Djabi making good runs up front and Brad Lynch in space on the left wing.

The Reds came within a whisker of taking the lead after 20 minutes when Lee Pugh’s long throw into the area was headed down at the near post and Atherton twice cleared the ball off the goal-line in a goalmouth scramble.

Colne continued to build some good attacks and came close again on the half-hour when Josh Hine released Djabi for a run into the area, but his finishing shot flashed wide of the post, with only keeper Greg Hartley to beat.

Four minutes later, Curran fired just wide from the edge of the area in a good period for the Reds.

At the other end, Alex Coleman made a great tackle to rescue the situation as Gareth Peet burst into the Colne area on a run down the left wing, and Connor Hughes shot over the bar after a dangerous build-up by Ben Hardcastle and Connor Gaul.

With half-time approaching, Oliver Roberts forced a good save from Burton to push his goal bound shot round the post and keep the scoresheet blank at the interval.

As the second half began, Ian Rowlands missed a great chance for the home side when he headed wide at the far post from a searching cross.

But it was Rowlands who gave Colls the lead after 63 minutes when a corner kick was headed down in the Colne goalmouth and he fired home a low shot to give his side the advantage.

Colne looked for a quick reply but Waqas Azam’s diagonal ball went begging across the Atherton penalty area when it only needed a touch.

Another long throw by Pugh created danger in the Colls goalmouth as Oliver Wood headed the ball down for Curran, but Peet cleared the ball from the six-yard box.

As play switched to the other end, Hardcastle found space in the Colne penalty area and forced a great save from Burton with his goal bound shot.

But when Curran forced a corner for the Reds, Richie Baker’s cross was headed down by Billy Priestley in the Colls area for Hine to score with a shot on the turn to bring the scores level at 1-1 on 76 minutes.

Colls looked to restore their lead, and a pile-driver by Tom Bentham forced another great save from Burton to keep the ball out of the Colne net.

And Burton was again in action to push Hardcastle’s diagonal shot round the post for a corner.

With four minutes left, it was Colne who scored next when Lynch supplied an inviting cross from the left wing, and Curran volleyed the ball into the back of the net from close range to grab a dramatic late winning goal for the Reds.

This was a great win for Colne as they continue their bid for the play-offs, with the three points leaving the Reds seventh. five points behind second place Radcliffe FC with a game in hand.

Colne host Radcliffe a week tomorrow at the Sovereign Play Stadium, which could prove a pivotal game in the promotion chase.

Tomorrow, they are at home to Skelmersdale United, kick-off 3 p.m.