Atherton Collieries relegation to the Northern Premier League West Division was confirmed Tuesday evening after 1-0 defeat at home against Macclesfield.

Kane Drummond scored the only goal of the evening with 15 minutes left as a valiant Colls defensive performance limited the promotion hopefuls attacking threat to a minimum.

The game initially started with the Colls playing on the counter-attack, and this nearly paid dividends with 11 minutes on the clock. Bobby Fenlon, making his first start in senior football, managed to free himself down the right wing and his fizzed ball across was just out the reach of an on-rushing Oli Putnam.

After this early chance, the Colls began to concede more chances, with the Silkmen’s highlight coming around 15 minutes in, Tom Donaghy pulling off a fine save in the home goal to deny Drummond from just outside the area.

Those two chances defined the half as the whistle went, a strong defensive display from the Colls managing to repel Macclesfield’s threat, while retaining both Putnam and Jordan Scanlon’s threat on the break.

The pressure Macclesfield applied before half time continued with Donaghy having a stellar game in goal for the hosts, the on-loan Fleetwood youngster tipping a succession of goal-bound efforts beyond his woodwork to maintain the stalemate.

Then, with less than 20 minutes remaining, Scanlon managed to break behind the Macclesfield high line before dragging his shot just wide of the post to almost give the Colls the unlikeliest of leads.

From the following passage of play, John Rooney attempted an audacious effort from inside his own half which cannoned off the bar only to fall to Drummond, who took a touch to compose himself before firing home to give the Silkmen a 1-0 lead.

Just after the restart, Colls full-back Lewis Thompson was bundled down from behind in the area. Though the assistant flagged for a penalty to the Colls, the referee controversially overruled the decision and showed Thompson a second yellow card for simulation, much to the ire of the vociferous Stripes faithful behind the goal.

Manager David Chadwick decided to go for broke, replacing Mo and Ahmed Ali for youngsters Ben Layton and Liam Sheppard for the final moments.

The pair have started alongside Bobby Fenlon throughout the Colls youth section this season, and all three did the club proud with their debut home performances against big-name opposition at the Skuna Stadium.

Two games remain for the Colls in the NPL’s top tier, with a trip to Marine on Saturday followed by the visit of play-off hopefuls Worksop the following weekend to end a proud five years at the highest level in the club’s history.