IT was honours even in the Boxing Day derby between Pontefract Collieries and Glasshoughton Welfare as both teams defied a tricky surface to play their part in an entertaining Baris NCE Division One game.
Glasshoughton led twice led but Collieries were determined not to lose ground to their title rivals and earned a point from a 2-2 draw with an 88th minute goal from captain Dean Twibey (pictured).
Welfare were the first to show with an Alex Booth overhead kick which initially surprised home keeper Lee Kelsey. Former Ponte striker Carl Fothergill then smacked a 35-yard shot against the crossbar.
From a free-kick Liam Radford turned inside, but the uneven bounce robbed Booth of a scoring chance and Collieries took the opportunity to mount their first attack of note from a deep throw-in.
Welfare took the lead in the 17th minute when awarded a penalty after Radford was the recipient of some high kicking and dangerous play and Fothergill stepped up to firmly plant past Kelsey for the opening goal.
The visitors stayed on the attack with a fine free-kick from Luke Smith, but the home men were getting into the game and looking to cause the Welfare defence some problems and were themselves awarded a spot kick as Rian Sykes was adjudged to have illegally held up Will Ramsay. Up stepped Liam Ormsby to coolly beat keeper Simon Kemp to square things up on 24 minutes.
Both teams were looking to play attacking football and Welfare came back with a flourish with Booth heading over when well placed then Fothergill having a point blank shot blocked out. At the other end Kemp needed to be alert to deny Ramsay and the interval came with the teams locked at one-all.
From the restart it was Collieries who were dominant with Welfare starting jittery and missing a number of crucial tackles and Ramsay was left clear to head a good opportunity over Kemp’s goal.
When Welfare replied some good interchanging put Nathan Dixon on goal, but a half hit shot failed to trouble Kelsey.
Welfare were not to be denied, however, and from a deep throw Andy Seed laid a perfect ball into the path of Paul Sykes, coming in from the left to hit a sweetly struck low shot past Kelsey to once again give the visitors the advantage just past the hour mark.
Pontefract replied with a vengeance and Welfare were forced into some deep and at times desperate defending, although when they broke out Seed was denied by a fine save by Kelsey and Radford raced through to round the keeper only to find the angle too tight. The game appeared to go into slow motion with everyone seemingly watching the ball bobble along the goal line before Colls were able to clear.
In an attempt to retain what they had Welfare rang the changes with Liam Tuck replacing Radford and Fothergill being substituted for Lee Bennett and as the game went into the closing period it looked as if they had done enough to claim the vital points. But on the 88th minute Collieries were awarded a free-kick which was knocked wide and after the visitors failed to deal with the resultant cross into the box Twibey stroked home to level matters.
Colls swept forward for a late winner, but were denied as Kemp made a final heroic block.
A draw was perhaps the fairest result and means that honours remain even between the two local rivals for the return game at Glasshoughton’s Leeds Road ground next Monday (kick-off 3pm).
It was Ponte’s first draw in the league all season and left them in second place, with their local rivals just a place and one point below them with three games in hand.
Albion Sports opened up a two-point gap at the top after beating Eccleshill United 3-2 thanks to a 90th minute winner.
Glasshoughton: Kemp, R Sykes (Corbett), Smith, Seed, Nodder, Forgione, Booth, P Sykes, Fothergill, Radford (Tuck), Dixon (Bennett).
Pontefract Collieries are holding a Hogmanay party at the club on New Year’s Eve, starting at 7pm. The party is open to all players, members, friends and supporters of the club with entertainment from a singer and a karaoke. Entry is £5 with under 16s welcome at the family event for £2.50.