Pontefract Collieries’ bid for an automatic promotion place suffered a blow when they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Yorkshire Amateur in Division One of the Toolstation NCE League.
Craig Parry’s men went into the game knowing three victories in their last three games would guarantee them a top two place and promotion back to the top division.
But the surprise reverse to mid-table Ammas saw them drop down to third place as the title race took a dramatic turn last Saturday.
Hall Road Rangers, who went into the day’s matches as the outsiders to Colls and current leaders AFC Emley in a three-horse race for promotion, are now favourites as they beat relegated Nostell MW 8-0.
To Pontefract’s relief, Emley could only draw 0-0 with Selby Town so their fate is still in their own hands and they are still likely to go up if they can achieve wins in their last two matches.
Emley are now top on 92 points, Hall Road are second on 90 and Colls third on 89 – but the leaders have played a game more.
It could come down to goal difference for Ponte, but they are only plus one behind Emley and are plus nine better off than Rangers.
They do have the toughest match of the three rivals this Friday, however, as they are away to seventh-placed Knaresborough Town and know that anything less than a victory is most likely to put paid to their chances of a top two finish.
Colls are guaranteed to finish in the top three, however, so they will still go into play-offs for promotion if they miss out on an automatic spot.
They will have to perform better than last Saturday when a late goal by T’nique Fishley and a penalty failure condemned them to defeat at Yorkshire Amateur.
The first half was devoid of much penalty box action as Ammas proved resilient, defying their 13th place in the table, and Ponte showed a few nerves with everything at stake.
A dipping long range effort by Carl Heard was the only real attempt at goal.
But the second half, which lasted 61 minutes because of two long injury delays, was full of drama.
The home side lit the spark when they went ahead on 54 minutes, Fishley outpacing Spencer Clarke before slotting the ball past keeper Ben Saynor.
Colls were stung into action and laid siege to the Ammers’ goal, but struggled to test home keeper Suwara Bojang until Chris Wood was fouled in the area. A penalty was the result and Glynn Cotton tucked it away to equalise.
Two minutes later a second penalty followed as the referee ruled that striker Wood had been fouled again. But this time Cotton saw his spot kick tipped onto the crossbar by Bojang and the rebound was hit over the bar.
It was to prove a costly miss as Fishley netted again for the Ammas after taking advantage of a collision between Saynor and defender Paul Haigh to score what proved the winner with five minutes of normal time to play.
Haigh had to go off with suspected broken ribs and went straight to the hospital.
There were 16 minutes of injury-time to follow, but although Colls huffed and puffed they could not break down the hosts and the game ended 2-1.