Evo-Stik League: Clarke seals Pontefract Collieries win in first game against Frickley

Eli Hey celebrates with Pontefract Collieries teammates after scoring against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton
Eli Hey celebrates with Pontefract Collieries teammates after scoring against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

The first-ever league meeting of Frickley Athletic and Pontefract Collieries lived up to expectations before going according to the form book at Westfield Lane.

The neighbouring sides went into last Saturday’s Evo-Stik East Division contest in contrasting fortunes with Ponte having won their previous three games and Frickley losing four league matches on the trot.

Pontefract Collieries have the ball in the back of the net against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

Pontefract Collieries have the ball in the back of the net against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

With both teams capable of finding the back of the net, though, an entertaining game was in prospect and so it proved with several twists, Colls going ahead but then finding themselves trailing before turning it round to win 3-2.

The visitors had three ex-Frickley players in their line-up with Jake Picton, Fabian Bailey and Glyn Cotton starting, plus Luke Jeffs and Mark Whitehouse on their bench. And they made a flying start as defender Spencer Clarke bundled a cross home from close range in only the fourth minute.

Jacob Hazel fired over from distance for the Blues and Clarke came close to a second goal when heading just over.

Frickley levelled on 21 minutes as Hazel slid an inch perfect pass through to Sam Cable who outpaced his marker before beating keeper Ryan Musselwhite for his first senior goal at Westfield Lane.

Eli Hey gets a shot in for Pontefract Collieries against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

Eli Hey gets a shot in for Pontefract Collieries against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

The hosts then went in front nine minutes later as Cable struck again with a brilliant turn on the edge of the box and an equally impressive strike into the top corner.

But Ponte were always dangerous and made it 2-2 in the 39th minute when Eli Hey got his head to a deflected shot that looped into the air, guiding the ball into the net.

Frickley then needed two great saves from Hugo Warhurst to stay level going into the break, one of them a superb reflex effort to keep out a ball destined for the top corner.

Colls were straight onto the front foot after the restart, forcing Warhurst into another save to deny Mikey Dunn.

Jake Picton goes tumbling for Pontefract Collieries against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

Jake Picton goes tumbling for Pontefract Collieries against Frickley Athletic. Picture: James Heaton

They went in front on 52 minutes when Clarke scored his second with a close range header from a corner.

Clarke was in the action again soon after, winning a penalty after a home player was penalised for a high boot. But Warhurst came to the rescue with a superb save, diving to his right to keep out Hey’s spot kick.

Frickley had shouts for a penalty waved away when James Gray, who came on as substitute to make his first competitive start for the Blues after spending nearly four months out with injury, went down. But instead of pointing to the spot the referee booked Gray for simulation.

Colls saw out the remaining time without too much trouble to take the spoils and local bragging rights and could have won by a bigger margin in the end.

Despite the win Pontefract stayed in fifth place in the table, but they can climb into second if results go their way and they can keep their winning run going away to 11th-placed Gresley this Saturday.