Lancaster City 4 Atherton Colls 2

COLLS continued their preparations for the new season with a keenly-fought friendly defeat away to last season’s Evo-Stik League First Division North champions Lancaster City.

Micheal Clegg’s side were given an indication of the level of opposition they will be facing in their debut season at the higher level.

In what was undoubtedly a worthwhile exercise ahead of the season opener away to Colne on Saturday, Colls acquitted themselves in the early exchanges.

It wasn’t until the 28th-minute mark that the home side went in front when Ryan Winder’s shot was deflected into the path of Oliver Wood to tap into an open goal.

That lead was doubled three minutes later when Paul Dugdale’s driven effort took a wicked deflection that looped the ball over the helpless Adam Reid.

Two minutes after the restart Colls halved the deficit when substitute Henoc Mukendi flicked on Iain Howard’s corner at the near post for fellow half-time replacement Mark Truffas to ghost in at the back post.

Lancaster soon restored their two-goal advantage when centre back Danny Lafferty was unfortunate to divert an Andy Howarth cross past Reid and into his own goal.

Lafferty didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself – eight minutes, in fact – as he pulled the score back to 3-2 when again Colls found success from a right-wing corner, with again Mukendi doing well to flick the ball on at the near post for Lafferty to smash the ball past Chris Cheetham, a former Atherton LR goalkeeper, from close range.

Having been comparable in intensity to a league game for well over an hour, both sides began to make a number of substitutions as the game wore on, with Lancaster completing the scoring with eight minutes remaining when Louis Mayers played in Hannu Tam.

It seemed as though Reid had done enough to stop Tam from rounding him, but the Lancaster man prevailed at the last second.

Although the final result would have been an obvious disappointment to Clegg and his staff, it was an evening well spent with a lot of lessons to be learned as the black and whites look ahead to the official start of their highest ever league participation.

On Monday Kendal Town visit The Kensite Stadium for a historic first ever Evo-Stik home game, 7.45pm.