ATHERTON Collieries got back to winning ways when they beat fourth-placed Hanley Town 5-1 away from home, a win which closes the gap between the two teams to five points with two matches remaining.
Coll’s Gareth Peet grabbed the first goal of the game on 10 minutes with an exquisite free kick from the edge of the box.
Paul Atherton then doubled the advantage 10 minutes later when he latched onto a poor clearance.
Hanley tried to edge their way into the contest with a couple of long-distance efforts but they didn’t test Phil Priestley. Things went from bad to worse for Town when Curtis Evans was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Despite being a man light, this buoyed Hanley who then pulled a goal back in controversial circumstances.
Town forward Theo Stair over ran the ball into the box and Priestley tried to gather it. Stair seemed to follow through studs up and Priestley took offence, before being shown a red card.
Centre-half Chris Lawton had to go in goal before he was put back outfield for the second half, with fellow defender Matthew Grimshaw becoming Colls third keeper of the game.
A minute into the second half and Colls’ made it 3-1.
Mitchell Leece set up Paul Atherton to score after Town had lost the ball in midfield. Grimshaw was being well protected by his defence, the midfield were winning their battles and the forward line were in imperious form.
On 80 minutes Karl Atherton’s free-kick was partially cleared to his twin Atherton on the edge of the box.
He turned and struck an unstoppable shot into the top corner for his hat-trick and 27th goal of the season. Town were shell-shocked and suffered further in the last minute when Paul Atherton centred for Leece to dink the ball into the far corner.
There was also a victory for Atherton LR who convincingly beat Irlam 2-0 at Crilly Park.
Kristian Holt opened the scoring on six minutes before before Paul Smith wrapped up the points midway through the second half.
The result keeps LR in sixth place, 15 points behind Colls in fifth.
Elsewhere, Daisy Hill went down 2-0 at home to Cheadle Town. Nathan Neequaye and Luke Pearson both scored for Town in the second half.