Wigan Robin Park 4 Atherton Colliers 1

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WIGAN Robin Park cemented their place at the top of the table with a thrilling 4-1 victory over local rivals Atherton Collieries on Saturday.

The Robins could have won by a larger margin, but you would never have imagined that as they fell behind after just 69 seconds.

From the kick-off Wigan took the play straight to the visitors and as the ball was played into the Collieries area an Atherton defender appeared to handle.

But the Robins’ claims fell on deaf ears and Paul Shanley surged forward for Atherton before playing a lovely through-ball for Gary Burnett to latch onto and slip the ball past Jay Foulds in the Park goal to make it one-nil.

A further shaky 20 minutes ensued before the Robins found their rhythm as Ben Kay and Shaun Judge began to get a grip of the midfield.

Lee Harrison had a great chance on the half hour mark when he found himself one-on-one with Colls’ keeper Lee Novak who did superbly to deny him the equaliser.

Phil Howard and Kay both went close before the Robins found an equaliser on 37 minutes.

A corner was only half-cleared by the Atherton defence and after an almighty melee in the six-yard area, Luke Faulkener prodded the ball home to take the sides into the break even.

The second half began brightly for Wigan and they were ahead after 53 minutes when Harrison produced a Beckham-like corner that eluded everybody and finished in the back of the net.

From then on it was all Robins as they carved open the Atherton defence at will.

Phil Howard tested Novak on a number of occasions before he made it 3-1 on 63 minutes when his low drive found the bottom corner.

Moments later Howard tried another drive when a square pass to Steve Edwards on his own would surely have resulted in another goal.

Howard then hit the bar with a thunderous drive.

Wood – enjoying an attacking role rather than his usual defensive duties – got on the scoresheet after 82 minutes with a fine left-footed shot from ten yards.

From the restart Colls had their only chance of the half when Shanley blasted over the bar from six yards.

There was still time for one more piece of action when Adam Howard broke through and instead of shooting himself unselfishly put his namesake Phil in, but although the ball ended up in the net he had drifted offside, meaning the game finished 4-1 to the Robins.

Judge was awarded man-of-the-match for his all-action display but his manager John Neafcy was delighted with all the team.

He said: “For the first ten minutes I had my head in my hands as I thought we started poorly.

“But after that we were superb, didn’t look like conceding and could – and probably should – have scored eight or nine.”

Wigan Robin Park reserves also won 4-1 – away at Nelson – with Ryan Small (2), Cole Ashton and Lewis Johnson the goalscorers.

The result means that both Robins’ teams top their respective divisions.

This Saturday Park are at home to Daisy Hill in a NWCFL Division One fixture.

With it being an international weekend and no Premier League fixtures taking place, the Robins are hoping that any football fans may make their way down to the Robin Park Arena for the 3pm kick-off.

Admission is £5 (£2.50 concessions and kids under-seven go free).