10-man Ponte Colls battle to draw with leaders

Nigel Danby: Defensive rock for Pontefract Collieries.
Nigel Danby: Defensive rock for Pontefract Collieries.

Pontefract Collieries missed a chance to close the gap on Division One leaders AFC Emley when they had to settle for a draw against them in a midweek Toolstation NCE League game at Skinner Lane.

After scoring 18 goals in their previous two games it was a contrasting match for the Colls as they failed to find the target against the side who have led the way in the division for much of the season and a goalless draw was the outcome with the spoils shared.

A victory would have seen Ponte go level on points with Emley, but the result left them in third place and they are now four points behind the table toppers after Colls had their scheduled home game with Shirebrook Town postponed last Saturday while Emley drew again, 2-2 at Bottesford Town.

Colls do have a game in hand, however, and it remains tight at the top with Hemsworth MW in second place – one point behind the leaders – after extending their unbeaten league run to 16 matches and Clipstone two points behind Pontefract from three fewer matches.

Louth, AFC Mansfield, Shirebrook, Bottesford and Yorkshire Amateur are also still in contention for promotion so it is looks like being an exciting second half of the season in this division.

Colls, who have won four and drawn one of their last five fixtures, are hoping to get back in action this Saturday when making the short journey to play mid-table Selby Town (kick-off 3pm).

Their postponed Shirebrook game, meanwhile has been rearranged for Wednesday, March 4 with a 7.45pm kick-off.

In the big midweek clash with Emley poor conditions made it difficult for both sides and chances proved few and far between .

Ponte made the better start with Andy Catton going through on goal only for Adam Lawlor to be quick off his line to smother the ball before the home player could get his shot away.

Emley replied as Antony Brown flicked the ball into the path of Ashley Flynn’s run, but the striker could only manage to fire his shot well wide while under pressure.

The hosts then got a free- kick in a dangerous position just outside the area, Mark Whitehouse stepped up, but struck his shot wide.

At the other end, Flynn once again found himself beyond the Pontefract backline, but once more could only manage to drill his shot wide of Craig Parry’s goal.

Emley then had a string of corners that were ably dealt with by the home defence, before Colls were reduced to 10 men when Phil Lindley was sent-off for his second bookable offence.

It was going to be tough for Pontefract after the break with a man down, but they continued to battle and defend strongly with the reshuffled back four, ably led by Nigel Danby, heading and kicking every piece of danger thrown their way.

Neither side was able to fashion much in the way of chances, although Emley threatened from several corners only for Pontefract defenders to manage to clear the ball to safety.

The best chance of the second period fell to Colls after some good pressure round the Emley penalty area. When a cross was put in Aaron Moxam rose highest to get his head the ball, but could only direct his effort wide of the goal.

The game drifted to its conclusion and at least Pontefract had a point to show for their efforts.