Colne Crowned Premier Division Champions

Sat 7th May 2016 | Colne
By Ian Templeman

Congratulations to Colne, who were crowned Premier Division champions this afternoon after a 1-0 win over 1874 Northwich at the Barton Stadium.

A Danny Boyle goal seven minutes from time sealed the win for Steve Cunningham's Reds, who can now turn their attention to completing a league and cup double when they take on Atherton Collieries in the MEN United Cup final on Tuesday night.

In a season that has seen the Reds in contention at the top of the table from the start, only the impressive form of Runcorn Linnets throughout the season stopped them wrapping up the title some weeks ago, and in the end we were treated to a final day shoot out at the top of the table.

At 3 o’clock the scenario was clear cut. Colne began the day two points ahead of Runcorn Linnets, knowing that a win over 1874 would clinch the title.

If Colne drew and Runcorn Linnets won their game at Padiham by six clear goals, Linnets would take the title on goal difference, and a Colne defeat and a Linnets win by any margin would also mean Linnets would be champions.

But in the end, after a nervous afternoon at the Barton Stadium, Steve Cunningham’s Reds went up in the style they wanted, with a victory to take the title by two points from Linnets, and finish the season on 100 points.

A fine afternoon at both the Barton Stadium in Winsford and the YESSS Electrical Arena in Padiham provided ideal conditions for the final day shoot out, and with both Colne and Linnets fans out in force at both venues, the scene was set for an intriguing and nervy 90 minutes for everyone involved.

Colne survived an early scare when 1874’s Mike Brandon outpaced the defence and sent a shot across the face of goal that just missed the far post, and then at the other end 1874 keeper Greg Hall made a fine block with an outstretched leg to deny Danny Boyle a few minutes later.

Colne enjoyed the better possession in the first half, and much of the action took place in the 1874 half, but as news began to filter through that Linnets had established a two goal lead at Padiham thanks to goals from Kyle Hamid and River Humphreys, nerves in the visiting camp became more fragile.

With Greg Hall in commanding form in the 1874 goal, and at the other end Mike Brandon heading just wide from a flick on by Tyler Edwards on the strike of half time, there was much for Colne manager Steve Cunningham to ponder at half time.

The second half produced less in the way of goalscoring opportunities, although Danny Boyle came close as the hour mark approached, when he latched on to a through ball and fired just wide after advancing in on goal.

That effort, coupled with news of a third Linnets goal at Padiham from Kyle Hamid, spurred the Colne Red Army into full voice, and a noisy backdrop for the rest of the game ensued, as Colne continued to battle with the challenge of breaking down a well organised home defence.

But the deadlock was finally broken seven minutes from time, and although Danny Boyle had scored 24 goals in all competitions for Colne, his 25th will be the one that he and the Colne Red Army will remember most fondly.

Good work by Colne substitute Joel Melia down the right wing took him past the covering defender, and his cut back from the goal line sat up perfectly for Boyle to rifle in a cracking shot that Hall did well to get a hand to, but couldn’t prevent from creeping into the corner of the net at the far post.

The goal predictably resulted in wild celebrations on the pitch and the sidelines simultaneously, which were repeated a few minutes later at the final whistle when victory was confirmed.

The jubilant scenes among players, officials and supporters continued on the pitch for around ten minutes, accompanied by the usual spraying of champagne, while everyone waited for the arrival of League Chairman Paul Lawler, Vice-Chairman Geoff Wilkinson and Secretary John Deal with the championship trophy and medals, and the stand at the Barton Stadium played host to the presentation ceremony that wrapped up the most famous day in Colne's 20 year history.


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