Pontefract Collieries missed out on a first appearance in the West Riding County final for 27 years when they lost to Northern Premier League Farsley Celtic at the Harratts Nissan Stadium on Tuesday night.
Craig Parry’s men put up a battling display against the cup holders, but went down 2-1.
Ponte had taken some impressive scalps on the way to the semi-finals, beating Ossett Albion, Yorkshire Amateur and Harrogate Town, but they knew they were in for a tough game when Celtic opened the scoring through Nathan Cartman after only two minutes.
They hit back to level when top scorer Eli Hey netted only for the visitors to go back ahead with Dan Cockerline’s goal three minutes before half-time.
It proved the winner as despite creating some decent chances after the break, Colls came up against a keeper in good form and could not find their usual scoring touch.
Pontefract maintained their promotion ambitions in the Premier Division of the Toolstation NCE as they scored two goals in each half to beat Rainworth MW 4-0 with a good professional performance in front a sizeable home crowd.
Colls dominated for long periods and the result was never really in doubt as they made it back to back victories following the two previous league defeats.
They were soon on top and had an effort disallowed for a foul in the second minute. Luke Jeffs went close with a well struck free-kick and the goal the hosts threatened came when Jack Greenhough came up from right-back to score from a corner on 18 minutes.
Rainworth were forced back further and it was 2-0 seven minutes later as Jeffs curled the ball into the net direct from a corner.
It stayed 2-0 to the break, but the margin would have bigger had it not been for the visitors’ keeper, Ben Townsend, who made a superb full-stretch save to deny Kieran Scargill in the 31st minute.
Another impressive save from Cody Cromack’s effort followed and Vaughan Redford’s point-blank header was also somehow kept out by the in-form stopper.
Rainworth had more of the play early in the second half, but nothing came of it and Ponte re-established control.
They were unlucky not to add a third goal when Mark Whitehouse became the latest to be denied by Townsend and Kane Reece’s effort was tipped over. But the keeper could do nothing to stop Colls from making it 3-0 from the resulting corner on 69 minutes as Redford found the net.
Reece was denied by an amazing double save from Townsend, but finally got on the scoresheet seven minutes from time to make it 4-0.
Colls looked back to somewhere near their best after their little blip round the turn of the year and assistant manager Craig Rouse is looking for his players to keep it up now.
He said: “We know that if we stick to our principles we are a match for any side in the division.
“There’s a good feel around the squad and the club in general at the moment – and long may it continue.”
Ponte remain in fourth place and 18 points behind leaders AFC Mansfield, who won again last weekend, but their destiny remains in their own hands as they have seven games in hand and a better goal difference.
Collieries have added to their squad by bringing in Will Ramsay from NCE Division One side Armthorpe Welfare.
Ramsay has played for the club before as he began his NCE career with Colls as a regular during the Brendan Ormsby era more than five years ago. He has since played for Goole, Selby Town and Hall Road Rangers and was a substitute in the win over Rainworth.
Pontefract are back on their travels in the next week with an away game at 16th-placed Athersley Recreation this Saturday (3pm) and a match at 17th-placed Staveley MW next Wednesday (7.45pm).