AFC Liverpool 1 Atherton Collieries 2

LEAGUE leaders Atherton Collieries strengthened their promotion credentials by gaining revenge for a defeat to AFC Liverpool earlier in the season.

Colls had beaten Barnoldswick Town 2-1 on Tuesday night and saw off Liverpool in similar fashion thanks to second-half goals from Jordan Cover and Jamie Forbes.

The visitors made the better start and applied a lot of early pressure, with Cover charging through on goal but Reds defender Danny Hughes managed to track back in the nick of time.

Conor Smith then had a strong effort palmed away by Colls keeper Adam Reid as the game went from end to end.

Brad Cooke met a corner at the near post and glanced his header towards the top corner, but home stopper Ross Dalton made a fine save.

Liverpool took the lead after a mix-up in the Colls defence led to Conor Smith scoring midway through the first half.

Dalton was earning his keep in the Liverpool goal as he made fine saves to deny Ben Hardcastle and Vinny Bailey to ensure his side went into the break ahead.

After the second half started at a slower tempo, Colls brought on-loan Stockport County forward George West off the bench and he set about changing the face of the game.

He played a key role in Cover's equaliser just after the hour mark as he cut inside from the right wing before curling an effort towards goal.

Dalton parried the shot to the edge of the area, where Cover was waiting to hammer in the rebound.

Colls were now well on top and looked favourites to grab a winner, with Dalton again pulling out all the stops to deny Gareth Peet from a free kick.

However, he was powerless to stop Forbes' winner with just 12 minutes of normal time remaining as he stayed forward from a set-piece, controlled Hardcastle's low cross and finished calmly.

There were nervy moments in the closing stages as the hosts pushed for an equaliser, but Colls were able to manage the game well enough to record a crucial three points.

They lead the North West Counties Premier Division by five points from Runcorn Linnets ahead of a trip to 1874 Northwich on Saturday.

A quick turnaround sees Colls host AFC Darwen on Monday.