FRIENDLY: Atherton Collieries 1 Wanderers B 0

Wanderers’ B team started life with a narrow defeat as a late goal gave neighbours Atherton Collieries victory at the Skuna Stadium.

The Whites blooded a handful of summer signings as Matt Craddock’s freshly-created young squad played their first warm-up game of the pre-season campaign.

And the new-look team will have learned plenty from their opening public outing ahead of a season which will see them play a mix of reserve-league fixtures and friendlies in a move to develop young talent and bridge the gap between Academy and senior football.

Wanderers were at their best before the break when they strung together some impressive passages of play ahead of a number of substitutions in the second half.

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But the better chances ultimately came Colls’ way and the Northern Premier League top-flight side secured victory a minute from time when one of their trialists grabbed the only goal of the game.

Wanderers started with five new faces in their starting line-up and player-coach Andrew Tutte directing operations in the middle of the pitch in front of a decent crowd.

The side took time to settle with Colls making early chances for Arron Smith, who headed over the top, and Jack Lenehan, whose effort was touched onto a post by former Atherton loanee Luke Hutchinson.

But once they had got to grips with the challenge of the non-leaguers, the Whites – who benefitted from the inclusion of Adam Senior and Max Conway after their recent first-team involvement – grew into the contest and played some decent football.

The lively Conor Carty had the ball in the net following a slick move but saw his first goal in a Wanderers’ shirt ruled out for off-side.

The former Wolves’ frontman also forced the Colls’ trialist keeper into a save just before the break with a curling free-kick from 25 yards.

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And from the corner that followed, Nelson Khumbeni shot wide with one of his final touches.

The former Norwich City midfielder got through an impressive opening 45 minutes before being replaced at the break in the first of Wanderers’ substitutions.

Carty and strike partner Gez Sitole, whose pace and persistence had caused some problems, also made way 10 minutes into the second half as former Warrington forward Matty Grivosti was given his first outing in a Whites’ shirt.

Connor Stanley, who came off the bench for the first team in their friendly against Wigan last weekend, fired a free-kick wide after an hour as Craddock's side pushed for the opener.

But Colls were almost handed a goal when Senior had to clear a mis-placed header from the otherwise tidy Lamine Toure off the line with an hour gone.

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And with Wanderers making several changes to relax their grip on the contest, Atherton were able to grab a late winner.

Oli Roberts fired just over the top for the home side and then with a minute to go, one of several trialists in the Atherton ranks rifled a long-range effort into the top corner to extend Colls’ unbeaten start to their pre-season programme from a competitive work-out which will doubtless stand the Whites' new team in good stead for what's to c.

Wanderers: Hutchinson (Litherland HT); Senior, Toure (Kamara 83), Halford (Tweedley 60); Sackey, Khumbeni (Pettifer HT), Tutte (Jones 73), Conway; Stanley; Carty (Lockett 55), Sithole (Grivosti 55). Substitutes: Sharples, Beardsworth, Burgess, Frimpong, Brown.

Atherton Collieries (starting): Trialist, Trialist, Peet, Amado, Lafferty, Defreitas-Hansen, Kershaw, Lenehan, Bakkor, Smith, Cusani.

Pictures: Kevin Hayden

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