Picton heads Pontefract Collieries back into top three

Winning goal: Jake Picton.
Winning goal: Jake Picton.

Jake Picton’s first half header earned Pontefract Collieries all three points as they came back from AFC Mansfield’s Forest Town Arena with a battling 1-0 victory.

The game was not the most exciting played by Colls in the Evo-Stik East Division, but the result saw them gain big on two of their rival teams for a play-off spot with second-placed Brighouse Town losing 5-2 to Loughborough Dynamo and Sheffield FC going down 3-1 to Wisbech Town to allow Ponte to leapfrog them into third.

The win was also achieved without top scorer Eli Hey and regular goalkeeper Ryan Musselwhite, who were both suspended for the match.

Colls made a good start as in only the second minute Mikey Dunn twisted and turned inside the home area only to see his shot saved low down by keeper Jason White.

Picton went close with a half-volley after a long throw fell into his path while Mansfield offered their first threat as Ollie Fearon got on the end of a long ball, but was denied by stand-in keeper Teo Hamelin.

Hamelin also came to the rescue to save from Ben Pritchard. At the other end Jordan Annable almost sliced an attempted clearance into his own net from Conner Smythe’s dangerous low cross. Smythe was the provider when Ponte took the lead two minutes from half-time as his free-kicked was headed home by defender Picton.

The second half saw few opportunities at either end in difficult windy conditions although Picton hit one effort into the side netting from a corner.

The home team had one good opportunity when Cameron Dear broke free, but with Hamelin off his line his attempted lob sent the ball wide before a Ponte defender was able to clear.

Mansfield kept plugging away to keep the game in the balance to the final whistle, but knew it was not their day when Jordan Annable saw his looping header from a corner hit the crossbar and bounce out to safety.

Colls’ attack has taken many of the plaudits in recent years, but this was a day for their defence to shine to keep a valuable clean sheet.

Pontefract are now unbeaten in their last five games ahead of their home game with Loughborough Dynamo this Saturday.