Albion's play-off hopes fade following stalemate at Atherton
Tadcaster Albion's Evo-Stik Division One North play-off hopes were dented as they played out a second goalless draw of the season against Atherton Collieries.
Billy Whitehouse and Aiden Savory both saw close-range strikes superbly blocked in the first half with Colls’ best chance coming in the final minute as goalkeeper Michael Ingham saved well to earn his side a share of the spoils.
The result leaves the Brewers eighth in the table, four points off the division’s last play-off position, but having played a game more than rivals Colwyn Bay (7th) and Colne (9th).
Michael Morton’s team will now need to win their two remaining fixtures and hope that Bay fail to take a maximum return from any of their next three, if they are to have any chance of sneaking back into promotion contention.
Despite a dip in form in recent weeks, a victory at Atherton on Saturday would have left Albion in with a decent chance of realising their play-off ambitions, however they couldn’t find a breakthrough and drew a blank for the third time in their last five outings.
Taddy did start the brighter of the two sides in the Lancashire sunshine though, and Pete Davidson blasted narrowly over before Savory’s header was comfortably collected by ex-Brewers keeper Greg Hartley.
Adam Farrell had the home side’s first sighting at goal but nodded off target on the stretch, but it was the travelling Brewers who continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock in the opening stages.
Davidson drove to the by-line and pulled back to Whitehouse whose strike from seven yards out was brilliantly blocked by Glenn Matthews.
On an extremely bobbly pitch, Savory was next to go close when his header looked destined for the back of the net only for it to be deflected inches wide.
From the resulting corner, Hartley dropped the ball, but neither Mitch Langton nor Josh Barrett could turn goalwards and Whitehouse’s follow-up strike didn’t have enough pace on it to trouble the home custodian.
Fresh from a brace at Ossett Albion on Tuesday night, Casey Stewart then went incredibly close to striking once again, but the forward saw his strike from 22 yards swirl away from goal.
The final action of the half came a couple minutes before its completion with Stewart heavily involved again.
The tricky winger drove beyond full-back David Sherlock before feeling a challenge from behind which led to half-hearted penalty appeals but referee Mr Rooney allowed play to go on.
Stewart was able to pull back across goal after going to ground, however, and the ball rolled invitingly for Savory who saw not one but two of his blasts well blocked by Danny Lafferty.
The first incident of note in the second period came on 64 minutes when Atherton’s Jack Kenny was dangerously close to turning into his own net, prodding a free-kick inches wide of the upright.
The game had a real end of season feel to it and almost seemed certain to finish goalless as Farrell flashed a looping volley across the Taddy goal.
Albion’s best chance of the half came six minutes from time when Langton cleverly released Stewart in behind but his half-volley swerved comfortably wide of the near post.
With victory key to his team’s play-off hopes, boss Morton went all-out attack in the final five minutes, sending wingers Josh Greening and Will Annan on from the bench as well as ordering defender Josh Barrett to join the front-line.
The aforementioned Barrett did manage to flick a corner goalwards after making a near-post run, but Hartley was equal to the effort once more.
With what was an uninspiring affair almost over, Atherton carved out the clearest chance of the afternoon right on the full-time whistle as substitute Gary Burnett was released in behind one-on-one but Ingham beat the effort away and the game ended in stalemate.
Next up for Tadcaster is a trip to Ossett Town on Tuesday, 7.45pm kick-off.