Pontefract Collieries maintained their recent improvement as they made it four wins on the trot with a 2-0 success at home to Teversal on Saturday in Division One of the Toolstation NCE League.
Arriving late at the ground after being caught up in a motorway closure due to an accident was not the best start for the visitors and coming up against an in-form Ponte side whose game plan these days is to try and catch their opposition early made matters worse.
Managers Duncan Bray and Nick Handley were forced into changes from the side that had defeated Hallam in the week. With star keeper Craig Parry unavailable and no recognised reserve Colls striker Nathan Perks was asked to do a job again while new signing Chris Hitchings came in at the last minute for Josh Corbett in midfield and with Brenton Leister and Tom Agus also unavailable Kingsley Wetherald partnered Radford up front and Rob Oldham returned to his left wide midfield berth.
After a kick-off delayed for five minutes Ponte took the game straight to Teversal and in the third minute forced a corner. Oldham stepped up for a left-footed inswinger and using the advantage of the strong down field wind curled the ball over the out-stretched arm of the keeper into the net.
Teversal looked to hit back and with veteran striker David Cockerill in fine form they pressed to get back into the game. However, all Cockerill’s guile and skill was wasted as he came up against Nigel Danby in fine form in the heart of the Ponte defence. As the half went on the two leviathans slugged it out and although the game swung from end to end any clear cut chances were few and far between.
Ten minutes into the second half the Ponte managers moved to strengthen their midfield by taking Chris Kamara off and replacing him with Craig Robinson. That move settled the team and they moved more into the attack with Radford making surging runs into the box.
On 62 minutes he worked his way to the by-line and fired in a low cross which took a wicked deflection off a Teversal player and just crossed the line before the keeper managed to scoop it out. While the referee failed to give the goal initially the linesman had clear sight and confirmed that all of the ball had crossed the line and the goal was given.
The game was end to end from this point, but despite pressure from both sides neither were able to score and Ponte ended with Perks untroubled to keep a clean sheet.
Next up for Colls is a travel to perennial strugglers Appleby Frodingham on Saturday as they look for another three points to help continue their closing of the gap with the table toppers. With all the top teams dropping points the gap has now closed to six points, although the pack behind Ponte are all keeping pace.
Collieries were also in winning form as they beat Hallam 1-0 at home in midweek in a game in which both sides had a player sent-off and the visitors also saw their manager red carded.
Ponte started fast again with Andy Catton first out of the traps, showing his class with a number of driving runs. He had four or five efforts blocked by the Hallam keeper and defence as well as a number of efforts fired just over or wide before Oldham and Radford joined the party with good efforts.
Several chances went begging as Radford, Oldham and Catton really should have had their names on the score sheet and somehow Hallam survived to half-time.
More pressure followed after the break before Colls finally broke the deadlock on the hour as Catton headed home from a corner.
Ponte kept pressing to add to their advantage, but with time almost running out the game boiled over and Hallam’s number six was sent off for a second bookable offence along with their manager who remonstrated with the linesman far too much for the referee’s liking.
As Ponte tried to run the clock down Perks was given a straight red card for a foolish challenge when trying to hold the ball by the corner flag.
Defender Gary Lumley has left Pontefract Collieries to join Selby Town.
Lumley has been a first team regular for a few seasons, making a name for himself as a no nonsense stopper in the heart of the defence. But new defensive signings have increased competition for places in the Colls back line and the player has decided to make the short move to his home town club.