Pontefract Collieries survived some final day drama before they were able to celebrate promotion back to the Premier Division of the Toolstation NCE League.
Craig Parry’s men went into the last game of the season needing to win away at Worsbrough Bridge Athletic to seal a top two finish in Division One and they achieved their aim with a 2-0 success – but it was not quite plain sailing.
With Pontefract one up through Chris Wood they went down to 10 men after goalkeeper Ben Saynor was sent off in the first half.
With no keeper on the bench it meant defender Jimmy Williams had to go in goal for 50 minutes, but remarkably he kept a clean sheet and Colls were able to achieve their promotion goal, With Hall Road Rangers also winning they finished top while Ponte go up as runners-up, finishing ahead of AFC Emley on goal difference after collecting 95 points from their 42 matches.
A big following went in support of the team in their final match and they must have felt confident when the team went at their hosts from the start knowing that only a win would really do
The fans were celebrating in the 25th minute when Wood opened the scoring from a rebound after Kane Reece’s initial shot had been kept out.
But the mood changed as Jack Mawson raced clear for Worsbrough and as Saynor came charging out of his area he brought the player down, resulting in a red card from referee Ellis Mills.
From the resulting free-kick, stand-in keeper Williams was not tested and Colls survived, but had more than half of the game to play with a man down.
It helped, however, that they quickly scored a second goal as Dunn cut in from the left to beat the keeper and defenders who desperately tried to clear the ball off the line.
The second half saw Ponte’s 10 men take the game to their opponents despite playing uphill and they were determined to protect their stand-in in goal keeper, who did not have a shot to save.
But for all their domination Colls could not quite kill their opponents off as they wasted good positions.
They had a golden chance to put the game to bed when former Pontefract player Connor Rollinson brought down Dunn in the area. But top scorer Dunn could not add to his 28-goal tally for the season as his spot kick went high and wide.
The visitors remained calm at the back, however, and saw out the remainder comfortably enough to earn the three points they needed.
There was no late drama to add to what had happened earlier and when the final whistle sounded it was celebration time. It may have become a bit edgy in the closing weeks, but Pontefract could look back on an excellent season in which they have scored 123 league goals and won 30 of their 42 matches. The planning starts now as Colls now aim to establish themselves in the Premier.