Pontefract Collieries gave themselves the perfect tonic following relegation as they started the new season with a terrific 3-2 victory over Runcorn Town in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.
In an unusual start to a campaign, Colls found themselves involved in the famous competition and did the club proud with a display that promises much for the season ahead in the NCE Division One.
New signings Chris Wood (two) and Mickey Dunn were on target on their competitive debuts for the club and Ponte survived a nervy finish to see off higher league Runcorn and earn a home tie with Bootle in the next round on August 20.
An extra bonus to come out of the win was the valuable £1,500 prize money it earned.
Colls were at it from the start with their strong attacking play in the early stages almost bringing two goals for Jordan Turner in the opening five minutes.
North West Counties Premier Division side Runcorn came into the game and Ponte were grateful to their recent signing, Ben Saynor, as he made several saves.
The visitors then allowed themselves to get frustrated as they disputed decisions by referee Phil Cartlich and landed themselves in trouble with yellow cards.
Ponte took advantage as they took the lead on 36 minutes through Dunn when he put away a good cross by the lively Turner.
They quickly followed up with a second as Wood’s flick on from Luke Jeffs’ free-kick sent the ball beyond the reach of the Runcorn keeper to make it 2-0 at half-time.
Runcorn threatened after the break and after Saynor made some important saves they finally beat him, pulling a goal back on the hour through Tom Rowlands.
A great strike by Wood from the edge of the box 12 minutes from time, however, made it 3-1 and effectively sealed the win for Collieries, although they did have a slightly anxious finish after Dave Forbes sneaked in to score the visitors’ second.
Five minutes of added time had to be survived, but Ponte saw it out to deservedly seal their place in the next round.
They now turn their attentions to their league campaign with a potentially tricky opening game on Saturday away to newcomers Ollerton Town (kick-off 3pm). It will be a step into the unknown for Craig Parry’s men with the Nottinghamshire side just promoted from the Central Midlands League and playing at this level for the first time.