Despite finishing with 10 men Pontefract Collieries won through to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup with a battling 1-0 victory over Stoke-on-Trent-based side Alsager Town.
Vaughan Redford’s superb first half strike earned them a narrow success in their opening match of the season and they will now go on to face Evo-Stik League side Skelmersdale United at the Harratts Nissan Stadium in the next round on Saturday, August 19.
Alsager gave Ponte a big test for their first game and end to end action tested both defences out.
Colls breached their opponents’ defence, however, on the half-hour when Redford picked up the ball after some loose play on the edge of the Alsager area and fired a shot low and hard into the bottom right hand corner of the net from 25 yards out.
A dominant spell followed, but the hosts were unable to make it count as several chances went begging either side of half-time.
The game changed when Ponte went down to 10 men after scorer Redford blotted his copybook on his competitive debut by getting sent-off for a second bookable offence after an incident off the ball.
Alsager took their cue to lay siege to the home goal for the last 20 minutes, but although they threw everything at Colls the defence stood firm. It was Ponte who actually had the best of the late chances, but it did not matter that it was not taken as they saw time out for the 1-0 win.
There was no time to dwell on the cup success as Collieries were straight into action in their first game back in the Toolstation NCE Premier Division after promotion on Tuesday night.
They were at home to Staveley MW and maintained the positive start when coming from behind at half-time to win 3-1 against opponents who finished sixth last season in the Premier.
It was an encouraging start for Colls as they look to establish themselves in the top flight and hope they have learned lessons from last time after going straight back down just a year on from going up from the first division.
Kurtis Morley put Staveley ahead on 24 minutes, but Ashley Emmett equalised for the hosts in the second half.
They then went on to seal the three points when last year’s top scorer, Mickey Dunn, opened his account for the new campaign six minutes from time and struck again two minutes later to complete a 3-1 win.
More home games follow for Pontefract in the next week as they host Pickering Town this Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and then face neighbours Hemsworth MW next Tuesday (7.45pm) with both matches in the NCE Premier.