Late Stopforth Winner Sinks The Bloods
By Dave Priestley
Colne got back on the winning trail with an excellent performance at Droylsden on Tuesday night.
Despite falling a goal behind in the first half to former Colne player Sefton Gonzales, the Reds bounced back to level the scores through Alex Curran and grab a dramatic late winner through Gary Stopforth in an exciting game.
Colne got off to an uncertain start but quickly put it behind them and took control of the game. The Reds came close to an opening goal after just five minutes when Waqas Azam’s diagonal free kick reached Andy Hollins at the far post and his goal bound header was pushed over the bar by an instinctive save from Droylsden keeper Richie Branagan. And five minutes later, Branagan rescued his side again when he kept out Curran’s shot with a diving save to turn the ball round the post.
Ollie Crankshaw and Lee Pugh made good runs on the left wing and tested the keeper with some diagonal shots into his goalmouth. And Azam had the beating of the defenders on the right wing where he supplied a series of inviting crosses into the home area.
But after 20 minutes, Droylsden created danger at the other end when Ciaran Kilheeney laid the ball back for Gonzales and his shot brought a great save from Hakan Burton to turn the ball wide of his goal. Two minutes later, Droylsden took the lead when a diagonal free kick into the Colne penalty area was headed home by Gonzales as he out-jumped the Reds defence.
Colne pushed forward looking for an equaliser with Harry Pratt and Stopforth pressurising the home defence in the last third of the field as the supply of balls from the wings continued. But with half time approaching, Droylsden again threatened as Shaun Holden and Callum Bagshaw both fired shots just wide of the Colne goal.
As the second half began, Colne continued to push forward and the pressure paid off after 55 minutes when Curran picked up a poor clearance and took the ball on into the penalty area before slotting it past the keeper to level the scores at 1-1.
Three minutes later, the Reds might have had a penalty when Pugh’s determined run past several defenders took him into the area where he was brought down but the referee waved aside Colne’s claims. As play switched to the other end, Droylsden’s central defender John Shaw came close when he guided his far post header over the bar from a great opening.
Manager Steve Cunningham used all three subs as his side went on all out attack looking for a winner but had to guard against counterattacks in an end-to-end finale. After 82 minutes, Sam Howell and Curran worked the ball through for Connor Hughes to take into the penalty area and when he took the ball round the keeper, he looked certain to score but fired his shot wide of the near post.
But Colne stuck to their task and after 88 minutes, a similar move found Stopforth in the area and he beat the keeper with a shot into the far corner of the net to spark the celebrations for the travelling Red Army.
The referee added a nail-biting four minutes of extra time before he blew the final whistle and allowed Colne to look towards the possibility of a play off place.