IT was a tale of two penalties as Atherton Colls spurned a first half spot kick while Widnes took advantage of a penalty of their own in the second half as the mid-table visitors turned the form table upside down.

That ended Colls’ run of three successive victories in the process, although the failure of Runcorn Linnets to beat Newcastle Town means Colls remain at the top of the Evo-Stik League Division One West despite this defeat.

There was just one change to the starting eleven that defeated Droylsden 2-0 last weekend, with Glenn Matthews replacing Josh Messer at left back, while James Kirby came in to the matchday sixteen having recently rejoined the club from North West Counties League side Sandbach Town.

With both sides keen to keep the ball on the well-maintained Skuna Stadium surface, there was a certain element of the pair cancelling each other out, and it took until the24th minute for there to be a first serious glimpse of goal as Ben Hardcastle blasted a left-footed effort wide of Owen Wheeler’s right hand post from ten yards out.

Two minutes later and Colls were presented a golden opportunity to go in front, Wheeler dragging down Jordan Cover as the Colls front man looked to pounce on a loose ball just a few yards from the Widnes goal. Wheeler was shown a yellow card for his indiscretion but Cover blasting his spot kick down the middle of the goal and finding only Wheeler’s trailing legs rather than the back of the net.

Hardcastle had another half-chance shortly before the break when Cover teed him up from the right hand side of the box, but his strike from eighteen yards out was always rising and did little to trouble Wheeler.

Greg Hartley had had precious little to do in the Colls goal but was called upon to make a smart save from close range on 54 minutes, but ultimately there was little he could do with what turned out to be the winning goal on 63 minutes, Ben Hodkinson sending him the wrong way after a penalty had been awarded for a foul just inside the Colls box.

There was a degree of huffing and puffing from Colls as they looked to level, but despite a trio of attacking substitutions in the form of Luke Giverin, Kirby and Ben Conway and a multitude of late corners, they struggled to create anything meaningful and were left to rue on first half missed opportunities.

Colls face a tough test as they look to get back to winning ways next weekend with a short trip to fourth-placed Radcliffe.