Colne came out on top in the Evo-Stik Lancashire derby against Ramsbottom United at the Utility Renewals Stadium on Saturday, thanks to a late, late goal from Matty Morgan.
The Reds took all three points from a bruising encounter, in which Ramsbottom played the second half with 10 men after a sending off just before half-time.
Colne looked lively in the opening stages, with new signing Harry Pratt winning balls in the air up front, and Alex Curran and Simon Nangle looking to benefit from knock downs.
At the other end, Phil Dean made dangerous runs into the home penalty area and Nangle and Chris Lynch made vital tackles to halt his progress.
After 15 minutes, Curran was brought down just outside the area and Waqas Azam’s free kick rattled the post, with Rams keeper Sam Ashton well beaten.
But the loose ball was fired over the bar when it fell to Curran, as a golden opportunity went begging.
Seven minutes later, the Rams came close when Jerome Wright forced his way through and brought a vital save from Hakan Burton in the Colne goal.
And Jonathan Hodgkinson and Lynch cleared further efforts from their goalmouth as the visitors pushed forward.
But a great exchange of passes on the left wing released Morgan into the Rams penalty area, and his angled shot was diverted just past the far post off Ashton’s boot.
Four minutes before half-time, Jamie Rother was sent off for allegedly throwing a punch in a midfield incident, reducing Ramsbottom to 10 men.
Colne pushed forward in the second half and created chances from corners and free kicks, but Ramsbottom were quick on the break, with Wright and Dean testing the legs of the Reds defenders and creating chances for Lee Gaskell up front.
Colne’s new signing Pratt briefly threatened with two half chances, but Ramsbottom’s Dean came close with a defence-splitting run and a 25-yard shot that brought a great save from Burton.
The Reds brought on fresh legs, and Connor Hughes headed just wide from a high ball into the visitors’ goalmouth.
Curran and Morgan saw their shots blocked by the Rams defence, while at the other end, Hodgkinson and Lee Pugh made great defensive tackles in the home penalty area to halt counterattacks by the visitors.
In the closing minutes, it was Colne who pressed for a winner, but Hodgkinson headed wide at the far post from a great opportunity, and Joe Kouadio lost his footing when he looked to be clean through on goal.
When a draw looked to be on the cards, a high cross into the Rams goalmouth was half cleared and fell to Morgan, who blasted a 25-yard pile driver through a crowd of defenders into the bottom corner of the net for the winning goal.
Tomorrow, Colne are at Kendal Town with a 3 p.m. kick-off.
The Reds have no midweek fixture, before hosting Droylsden on Saturday, January 27th.