A MUCH-improved Atherton Collieries were their own undoing as they succumbed to a gut wrenching late 2-1 defeat at home to Bamber Bridge in the NPL Premier Division on Tuesday.

It was a perfect start to the evening’s proceedings when Nathan Caine scored his first goal for the club in just the third minute.

The Bamber Bridge defence, who struggled all evening to cope with the relentless Colls forward press, were forced into gifting Caine the ball with goalkeeper James Pradic in no-man’s land, and the youngster converted from range with ease.

The Stripes looked to build upon this early foothold throughout the first half with Jack Evans most notably coming close with a powerful header from a corner.

Debutant Joe Adams also impressed, releasing Jordan Scanlon with a smart and quickly-taken free-kick, which was to no avail, while midfielders Harvey Gregson and Sidi Fofana were once again relentless in controlling play for the Colls.

The game truthfully should have been put beyond any doubt on the hour mark. Scanlon was the recipient of two gilt-edged opportunities in quick succession, both of which coming while one-v-one with stopper Pradic, but the young forward was unable to convert.

From this point, Bamber Bridge grafted and put in the hard yards of their own.

And they and equalised with 15 minutes of the game remaining. Lewis Coulton, who had been generally exceptional all night, misjudged a tackle on the edge of the penalty area, fouling Danny Edwards who had made a clear impact for Brig since his introduction on the hour mark. Captain Macauley Wilson, who has always been a formidable opponent for the Collieries, converted.

As the game entered its dying embers, both teams went toe-to-toe in search of that winning goal, however it was Bamber Bridge who found it.

A long ball found Harry Scarborough, who produced an excellent finish following some smart initial control to claim the three points.

Next up for Colls is an home league game with Hyde United next Tuesday (7.45pm).