Atherton Collieries fell agonisingly short of what would have been a remarkable NPL Premier Division comeback, as their 10-men were beaten 4-3 at Ashton United.

Defender Dylan Moonan had given the away side the lead in the first half, before goals from Sean Newton, Luke Burke, Nathan Lowe and James Hardy seemingly wrapped the game up for the Robins.

However, Oli Putnam and Dylan Thompson then struck in quick succession late on to set up a nervy final few minutes for the home support.

A quality set-piece delivery helped David Chadwick’s men edge in front, sparking a scramble in the Ashton area which eventually culminated in Moonan notching the opener - his third in four games against the Robins this campaign.

And it would be another corner at the other end which provided the home side with a quick route to an equaliser, with the ball making its way to an unmarked Newton at the back post, who subsequently slammed home with real authority.

But as a largely solid first half from the Colls was coming to a close, things would take what arguably proved a decisive turn, as defender Teddy Mfuni was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

That misery was swiftly compounded by Ashton completing the turnaround, as Burke’s effort found its way in from an acute angle.

And it was 3-1 shortly after the break, as home captain Lowe rifled the ball into the top corner.

At that point, the hosts were really beginning to make their man advantage count, moving the ball around smartly and barely allowing the Colls a kick.

One such prolonged spell of possession would lead to a fourth goal, as Mitchell Rose neatly slipped through Hardy, who showed notable composure to lift the ball over debutant keeper Kai Calderbank-Park.

Those who had made the short trip from Atherton to Hurst Cross saw no lack of endeavour from their side despite the trying circumstances, however, and those efforts would be rewarded with a pair of late goals.

Putnam first placed the ball perfectly into the bottom corner to register his first goal in Colls’ colours, before Thompson was the ultimate beneficiary of another set-piece scramble.

There was even a glimpse at the unlikeliest of equalisers, but debutant Luke Partington was unable to keep his effort down, meaning the score remained at 4-3 as referee Jonathan Chadwick brought a frantic game to a close.

The Colls return to action at the Skuna Stadium on Saturday, welcoming mid-table Morpeth who always offer tough opposition.