Cartman's debut double hands Boro opening-day win at Atherton
Nathan Cartman got the season off to the perfect start with a double to steer Boro to a 2-0 win at Atherton on the first day of the season.
Boro had lost on each of their three previous visits to Atherton, but on Saturday they finally ended that losing run, 189 days after their last NPL outing, a 1-0 win at Basford United back in March before the Covid 19 restrictions brought football to an abrupt halt.
On a glorious sunny afternoon in Lancashire, Boro’s new look team, which included debutant keeper Ryan Whitley, on loan from York City, turned in a magnificent performance at the Skuna Stadium, with stand-out contributions all over the park.
Wing backs Josh Barrett and Ashley Jackson were both superb, and the central defensive trio of new signing Will Thornton, Harry Coates and Dylan Cogill combined to limit the home side to just a handful of half-chances.
Bailey Gooda, playing in an unaccustomed role in midfield, was strong and solid in the tackle and inventive with his distribution, while Ryan Watson once again looked a class act driving forward and sending over crosses.
Stars of the show for Boro though were the strike pairing of Michael Coulson and Cartman, who both battled, chased and harried all afternoon, causing endless problems for the hard-pressed home defence.
Boro made a sensational start, going in front after just 48 seconds when Coulson and Neal Bishop, veteran of more than 700 senior games, combined down the left and worked the ball forward to Cartman who crashed a left-foot shot past the stunned keeper.
Then in the fourth minute a Watson free-kick fell to Cartman, who blasted a shot against the post, and the great start for Boro continued when Coulson raced past two defenders before having his shot blocked by the keeper.
On the half hour Cartman showed great skill to back-flick the ball over the head of the last defender, but then lost his footing as he was about to race clear on goal.
Atherton’s only real attack of the first half saw Jordan Darr shoot into the side-netting after running on to a through ball down the left. The second half began with Boro again on top, and they doubled their lead on 53 minutes with a route one goal.
Keeper Whitley kicked a long ball upfield, it bounced over the last defenders, and in-form Cartman raced through and drilled a right foot shot past the keeper. Ryan Watson then fired a shot at the keeper, and Barrett headed a Watson free kick inches wide.
Coulson showed a touch of class to race past two defenders to tee up Cartman, but keeper Danny Taberner saved his shot.
Atherton almost pulled a goal back on 69 minutes when Marcus Cusani fired a shot against the base of the near post, but Boro went straight down the other end, and Coulson had a snap shot charged down, then Watson fired wide from the rebound.
There was a late chance for the home side, when Whitley made a reflex save to deny Elliott Rokka, and Boro almost added a third goal when Jackson ran on to a through ball from Gooda, but his first time shot curled past the post.
All in all a superb team performance and a great start to the season for Darren Kelly’s side.
MATCH STATS BORO TEAM Whitley, Barrett, Jackson, Thornton, Coates, Cogill, Gooda, Bishop, Cartman, Coulson (Glynn 82), Watson Subs (not used) Allinson, Blott, Beadle, Brown.
GOALS - Nathan Cartman, 48 secs, 53 mins.
BORO MAN OF MATCH Michael Coulson.
REFEREE- Alan Bennett.