Pontefract Collieries bounced back from their defeat at Emley with victories over Shirebrook Town and Grimsby Borough to go back to the top of the table in Division One of the Toolstation NCE League.
After a midweek 3-1 success against promotion rivals Shirebrook Town bottom club Grimsby were put away 5-2 on Saturday, but only after a scare.
Colls were red hot favourites to make it their 11th win from 14 league outings, but found themselves behind at half-time against opponents battling hard to avoid finishing bottom.
They were made to work hard in the opening half before the prolific Aaron Moxam added to his tally by putting the hosts ahead on 42 minutes with a neatly taken shot from his first sight of goal.
Up to then chances had been hard to come by, although the hard working Liam Radford did find himself through without being able to convert.
The game came to life in the final five minutes of the half as the visitors went down to 10 men with their left-back sent-off for two bookable offences.
Moxam’s goal came soon after, but Grimsby quickly replied through Richard Sparrow as he skipped across the front of the defence with no-one taking responsibility for a challenge and with a sight of goal hammered the ball past the diving Craig Parry.
To make matters worse Grimsby came back at Ponte straight from the restart and an almost carbon copy second goal followed, this time from Daniel Simpson.
After a few reminders from management duo Duncan Bray and Nick Handley at the interval Ponte emerged to regain control in the second period, although it took another quarter of an hour of probing before they could unlock the Grimsby defence.
They started to find opportunities wide on the left as Josh Corbett found himself to be the man over and made raid after raid down the flank.
On 62 minutes the Ponte faithful were treated to a rare Radford headed goal as he brought the scores level.
Then just six minutes later a handball in the Grimsby area, which the referee judged to be deliberate, brought a penalty and Moxam stepped up to hammer the ball home to put Colls back in the lead.
Ponte switched things round, bringing Matty Marsden and Adam Hayton on for the tiring Iwan Heeley and Aaron Joseph. The change seemed to open up more space and on 86 minutes good work in the box by Andy Catton and Moxam saw the ball get through to Radford, whose mis-hit shot bobbled over the line to make it 4-2.
Two minutes later Corbett’s storming run down the left saw him deliver an inch perfect cross from the bye-line and Catton headed home to kill the game off.
It had not been their best display with exertions in their midweek game perhaps taking its toll, but the win was vital and ensured Ponte went back to the top of the table.
In their midweek six-pointer against Shirebrook it was a more convincing display from Colls, who led 1-0 at half-time after Moxam netted.
Recent signing Lee Bennett got forward from midfield to double the lead 17 minutes into the second half and it was all over bar the shouting when Moxam bagged his second six minutes later.
Jack Barnett scored a consolation for Shirebrook, but it was too late for the fourth-placed side to deny Collieries.
Pontefract are on their travels now as they look to maintain their challenge with away games against Bottesford Town this Saturday (3pm) and Worsbrough Bridge Athletic next Tuesday (7.45pm).
Colls have bolstered their midfield for the promotion battle by signing experienced Adam Hayton from Nostell MW.
Hayton has previous experience at North West Counties club Barnoldswick Town who he left to join Ossett Albion where he was captain.
Managers Bray and Handley have also moved to further strengthen their squad for the final push with the addition of Shaw Lane Aquaforce centre- back Luke Danville.
Danville has been a stalwart of the Shaw Lane defence for the past few seasons but recent signings have limited his appearances. He has agreed to join former Shaw Lane colleagues Mark Whitehouse and Aaron Joseph at Ponte and is expected to be in the squad for this Saturday’s game.