FA Cup exit follows first Premier win for Ponte Colls

Liam Radford, two goals against Athersley Recreation.
Liam Radford, two goals against Athersley Recreation.

Fortunes do not come more mixed than they have for Pontefract Collieries in the last week as they followed the delight of a first win in the Toolstation NCE Premier Division since promotion with a heavy defeat that saw them go out of the Emirates FA Cup.

Colls were celebrating last Wednesday night when two goals from Liam Radford and one by Luke Danville gave them a 3-0 league win at home to Athersley Recreation.

But it was a different story last Saturday when they were soundly beaten 6-0 away at North West Counties Premier team Runcorn Linnets in the preliminary round of the FA Cup.

They were up against the side that had knocked Glasshoughton Welfare out in the previous round with another big scoreline in a replay after they had originally drawn and were forced to make changes to the team with several key players unavailable because of work commitments mostly.

The reshuffled Ponte were never in it and their day to forget began badly when they were behind from the second minute to the first of what were to be three goals for Freddie Potter.

Francis Smith (two) and Mark Houghton added more goals at regular intervals and Runcorn cruised through after being four up at half-time to emphatically end any hopes of FA Cup glory for another year for Collieries.

It was a different story for the Pontefract side a few days earlier as they ended their 16-year wait for a Premier Division win in the NCE League in good style.

After disappointing defeats to Armthorpe Welfare and Worksop Town in their opening matches after coming back up to the top flight, Colls were desperate to get their season going and produced a much improved display against one of the better sides in the division.

New signing from Frickley Brad Riley made his debut and looked a good addition to the Ponte ranks in midfield and they made the running from the start.

Danville had an early header cleared off the line before Radford fired the hosts ahead on 14 minutes with a confident finish after being put through by Iwan Heeley’s well placed pass.

An even spell followed, but Colls doubled their lead on 32 minutes when Athersley keeper Richard Watson fumbled the ball after it had been played in from a free-kick and there on the spot to put the ball into an empty net was Danville.

Athersley looked to hit back and came close just before half-time when it needed two good saves from young goalkeeper Ellis Halpine – standing in for the absent Craig Parry –to keep the visitors out.

First Halpine denied Danny Joynes then he made an equally good stop to prevent Ryan Blackburn from scoring and the hosts went in two goals to the good at the break.

The second half was not as entertaining as the first, but Ponte remained largely in control and added to their tally eight minutes from time as Radford went round keeper Watson to score his second of the night.

The goal meant Colls were home and dry for their first league win of the season. It lifted them up to 17th in the table ahead of their scheduled game tonight when they are away at Parkgate.

They are in the middle of six successive away games, which is going to test them and turn to the FA Vase this Saturday, away to Rossington Main in a first qualifying round tie kicking off at 3pm.

Collieries return to league action next Wednesday when away to Brigg Town, who have made a nightmare start to the season with defeats in all of their first six Premier Division matches. Kick-off is 7.45pm with Ponte looking to add to their opponents’ woes.