Atherton Collieries once again offered an attractive brand of football at home against Lancaster City, however were undone by the experience and maturity of the on-form NPL Premier play-off hopefuls going down 2-0.

The Stripes started well, with Ben Rydel threatening in the opening stanza, while Mwiya Malumo was also unlucky not to score courtesy of Sidi Fofana.

However, it was Lancaster’s Simon Grand who opened the scoring. The Collieries were unable to clear their lines as a low ball came into the six-yard box, and the half-chance was somehow scrambled home by the visitors.

Nico Defreitas-Hansen was once again in fine form following the goal, pulling off a top save after a rogue loss of possession from the Colls defence.

For the most part, both teams were limited to half-chances throughout the first half, and the second period offered more of the same.

Lancaster’s Nico Evangelinos was the first to try his luck in the second half, firing high and wide from an ambitious distance.

Colls’ Josh Askew followed up with an attempt of his own moments later, however the simple low catch was almost spilt into the net by Lancaster stopper Andre Mendes.

A penalty was awarded for Lancaster moments later, a 50-50 coming together between Rydel and Brad Carroll on the edge of the box resulted in the referee pointing to the spot.

Nico Evangelinos, who has always been a formidable opponent of the Collieries over recent years, was on hand to convert, though Defreitas-Hansen was unlucky having managed to get a palm on to the effort.

The Collieries sparked into life towards the end of the game, with Malumo, Jordan Scanlon and Rydel all offering a consistent threat with designs on notching a consolation goal.

The most notable chance came through Malumo, who outpaced Andre Mendes to a loose ball, but could not find the passing option to convert among the misaligned Lancaster defence with the stopper in no-man’s land.

Lancaster finished the game good value for their 2-0 victory, however the Colls cannot be faulted for their style or workrate throughout the game, with the experience and maturity of the visitors the deciding factor in a match of fine margins.

Next up, the Collieries’ FA Cup dream commences with a trip to Guisborough Town in the first qualifying round on Saturday.