HAVING been overtaken at the top of the table, Atherton Collieries kept the heat on Radcliffe with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Widnes.

At the impressive Halton Stadium Colls conceded the first goal but Jordan Cover – in a rare start this season – and Connor Hughes scored to ensure they took home the points.

The first attack of the game, five minutes in, saw Danny Lafferty try to exploit the pace of Cover, and though the ball took a rather unusual bounce it stood up kindly for Ben Hardcastle instead.

His snap-shot flashed wide of Owen Wheeler’s post in Colls’ only sight of goal in a flat first half.

Widnes were using the width of the pitch effectively, playing the ball from side to side to probe the visitors.

And on 12 minutes they were rewarded for their patience.

Right-back Jay Roberts’ cross was put out for a corner, which was half-cleared to George Webster on the edge of the box and he was able to pick his spot in the bottom corner to give Widnes the lead.

Colls were chasing shadows after they fell behind, with Wheeler seeing plenty of the ball but rarely troubled and, with most of his touches with his feet, he was able to distribute to his full-backs with relative ease.

With Atherton’s high-tempo pressing strangely missing it was Widnes who had further opportunities in the first half with Danny Ventre and Niall Watson both chancing their arm.

After manager Mike Clegg had issued a few choice words during the half-time break a different Colls side emerged for the second half.

Gaz Peet was first to show intent with a free kick on the edge of the box following a trip on Conor Gaul.

Peet’s effort slammed against the bar with enough force to almost send the rebound clear of the area.

But he provided the assist for Colls’ equaliser just before the hour mark.

His left-footed delivery beat the first man to reach Cover, who had lost his marker, and he nodded in his side’s equaliser.

Though a headed goal from Cover is a rarity, he almost repeated the feat moments later from Vinny Bailey’s free kick but Wheeler collected Cover’s downward header.

Wheeler also denied Peet with a smart save low down after he had cut in the from the left and turned Roberts.

The visitors’ period of pressure brought their second goal on 65 minutes with the move of the game.

Gaul and Lafferty combined to feed Hardcastle in the middle, and he superbly supplied Dave Sherlock out on the right with the chance to provide a sublime ball into the middle.

His cross went to Hughes and, after taking time to compose himself and pick his spot, he slotted the ball home to make the score 2-1.

Late on Colls could have sealed victory but Hardcastle was unable to hit the target from Peet’s cross and Hughes’ wonderful curling effort was somehow saved by Wheeler.

They almost dropped two points late in the game as Widnes’ joint-player-manager Kev Towey found the head of Harry Brazel six yards out but he planted his header firmly at Colls keeper Greg Hartley.