When you talk of 6 pointers, then Saturday’s home fixture with Atherton Collieries certainly fits the bill. 22nd placed Rangers at home to 21st place Atherton, with Atherton5 points ahead but with an amazing 7 games in hand. A Rangers win would see us breathing down their necks and with a potential fixture backlog, Atherton could be playing 3 or 4 times a week in April which could stretch their ability to pick up points. Yet another straw we can cling to.

This will be Atherton Collieries first ever visit to Marston Road, and they travel here with an away league record of won 2, (Gainsborough and Stalybridge) 3 draws (Ashton, Matlock and Warrington) and 8 defeats (Bamber Bridge, Basford, Lancaster, Morpeth, Radcliffe, South Shields, Whitby and Witton). Hopefully we can add to their woes and return to Lancashire pointless. On current form we have a slight edge with a draw, win and 3 defeats in our last 5 while Atherton have a win and 4 defeats in the same period. However, on Saturday, while we were beating Whitby, Atherton were enjoying a home win over relegation candidates Grantham. Just shows how tight the game could be.

This will be the first ever meeting of the two clubs, so we need to reflect on their history. Atherton Collieries Football Club was formed in 1916, by miners from the six pits which were operative in the area of the town. The club was created as a means of providing welfare for those at home during the war effort. When the pits were nationalised, the football club was gifted to the people of the town. Their home ground is at Alder House and has been their home from day one. Atherton, known locally as “The Colls” were founding members of the North West Counties Football League in 1982 and remained there until 2017, when earned promotion to the Northern Premier League for the first time in the club’s history. Their turnaround and rise up the pyramid came about when Michael Clegg was appointed first team manager in August 2014 and immediately began assembling a young and local side. The club went on to win the NWCFL Division One title and in his second campaign the Colls won the League Cup, beating the league champions Colne 5-1 at Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium, whilst finishing fourth on the club’s return to the North West Counties Premier Division. The 2016/17 campaign was a momentous one for Atherton Collieries, as in their centenary year they clinched the NWCFL Premier Division title and reached the last 16 of the FA Vase backed by a large and ever-growing local fan base. 2018/19 saw them finish top of Division 1 West, 7 points ahead of second placed Radcliffe, to play at step 3 for the first time.

I fully understand that 3 home games in 8 days puts a strain on the pocket, but it is essential that we see 3 points gained on Saturday, so please come on down and give the team your support. Remember, the great escape is still on, but the fat lady could be tuning her voice.

Games played on March 14th this century

2006 Hednesford H 1-1 Conference North
2009 Droylsden H 0-0 Conference North
2015 Romulus A 0-1 Northern Premier Division 1
2017 Ilkeston A 2-1 Northern Premier League

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