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Cunningham’s Reds stay in touch of play-off places

Alex Curran heads for goal against Tadcaster Albion'''''''Pictures: Andy Pritchard
Alex Curran heads for goal against Tadcaster Albion'''''''Pictures: Andy Pritchard
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Colne maintained their play-off hopes as they claimed four points over the week.

On Saturday, the Reds were held to a goal-less draw at home to fellow play-off challengers Tadcaster Albion.

And on Tuesday, Steve Cunningham’s men came away from Droylsden with a 2-1 victory.

At Droylsden, despite falling behind in the first half to former Colne player Sefton Gonzales, the Reds levelled through Alex Curran, and grabbed a dramatic late winner through Gary Stopforth.

Colne got off to an uncertain start, but quickly put it behind them and took control of the game.

The Reds came close to an opening goal after just five minutes when Waqas Azam’s diagonal free kick reached Andy Hollins at the far post, and his header was pushed over by Droylsden keeper Richie Branagan.

And five minutes later, Branagan kept out Curran’s shot with a diving save to turn the ball round the post.

But after 20 minutes, at the other en, Ciaran Kilheeney laid the ball back for Gonzales, and his shot brought a great save from Hakan Burton.

Two minutes later, Droylsden took the lead when a diagonal free kick into the Colne area was headed home by Gonzales.

With half-time approaching, Droylsden again threatened as Shaun Holden and Callum Bagshaw both fired shots just wide.

As the second half began, Colne continued to push forward and the pressure paid off after 55 minutes when Curran picked up a poor clearance and took the ball on into the area before slotting it past the keeper to level the scores.

Three minutes later, the Reds might have had a penalty when Lee Pugh’s determined run past several defenders took him into the area, where he was brought down, but the referee waved aside Colne’s claims.

Droylsden’s central defender John Shaw then came close when he guided his far post header over.

Manager Steve Cunningham used all three substitutes as his side went on all out attack looking for a winner.

After 82 minutes, Sam Howell and Curran worked the ball through for Connor Hughes to take into the area, and when he took the ball round the keeper, he looked certain to score, but fired his shot wide of the near post.

But Colne stuck to their task, and after 88 minutes, a similar move found Stopforth in the area, and he beat the keeper with a shot into the far corner of the net.

The referee added a nail-biting four minutes of extra time but Colne held on as they boosted their play-off hopes.

On Saturday, Colne’s lack of finishing power cost them against Tadcaster Albion at the Utility Renewals Stadium.

Colne made a bright start with a series of promising attacks. Matty Morgan saw his shot pushed over the bar by Michael Ingham after eight minutes, before Ollie Crankshaw’s angled shot was deflected wide off defenders.

Alex Curran just failed to reach Morgan’s low cross with an open goal in front of him, and Harry Pratt forced another good save when through on goal after 16 minutes.

On the half hour, Ingham produced another vital save to deny Crankshaw when he was clean through on goal.

Tadcaster came more into the game towards half-time and Billy Whitehouse shot wide from a good chance, before Peter Davidson blasted over from another opening.

Five minutes before half time, Tadcaster were reduced to 10 men when Davidson was sent off for a wild challenge on Stopforth just outside the area.

Tadcaster re-organised after the interval, but the Reds came close on the hour when Azam’s cross to the far post was headed just wide by Crankshaw.

And minutes later, Morgan saw his angled shot cleared off the line.

But Whitehouse came close with a fierce shot after 65 minutes before Azam cleared the ball off the line two minutes later.

And Hakan Burton was forced to make a vital save at his near post when Casey Stewart burst into the area.

Hughes fired over from a glorious opportunity provided by Crankshaw after 75 minutes and Azam’s well struck shot flew just past the top corner in the closing minutes.

Tomorrow Colne are at Bamber Bridge.

DAVE PRIESTLEY