Pilling ends five-year spell as Atherton Collieries boss

First published in Sport

STEVE Pilling stepped down as Atherton Collieries manager after they ended the season with a 1-0 defeat at Formby that saw the hosts clinch promotion from North West Counties League Division One.

Colls went into the match with nothing to play for and without suspended goalkeeper Phil Priestley.

Formby started the campaign as one of the main contenders for promotion after winning the title last season but failed to go up due to non-footballing reasons.

There were no such problems this time around, but they needed a win to secure their place in the league’s top tier as Division One runners up.

Anything else and 1874 Northwich would have been promoted instead.

Despite Colls battling hard throughout, Formby grabbed victory via an own goal from defender Chris Lawton.

It brought an end to a mixed season for the Alder House side who, despite scoring 100 goals in the league, could only manage a fifth-placed finish.

Pilling resigned due to personal reasons, bringing to an end four full seasons at Colls. During that time he led the Atherton men to their first silverware in more than 25 years, beating AFC Liverpool in the final to clinch the First Division Trophy in 2011.

The following season they beat Eagley on penalties at the Reebok Stadium to win the Hospital Cup.

The holy grail of promotion to the Premier Division wasn’t realised but it wasn’t for the want of trying, with Colls twice finishing in fourth place, twice in fifth and once in sixth under Pilling.

Elsewhere, Daisy Hill moved off the bottom with a first league win since September, overcoming fellow stugglers Eccleshall 2-1 at home thanks to second-half goals from Paul Oldham and Kahmori Bragman.

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