Pontefract Collieries denied by late goal but clinch home advantage for Evo-Stik League play-offs

Mikey Dunn celebrates his goal for Pontefract Collieries against Sheffield FC. Picture: James Heaton
Mikey Dunn celebrates his goal for Pontefract Collieries against Sheffield FC. Picture: James Heaton

Pontefract Collieries secured home advantage for the forthcoming Evo-Stik East Division play-offs when they earned four points from their Easter double header against two of their rivals.

Colls followed up a 3-0 success against fifth-placed Sheffield FC with a 1-1 draw at fourth-placed Ossett United with the results ensuring that they will now finish in either second or third place in their first season at this level.

Nick Guest looks to get a shot away Picture: James Heaton.

Nick Guest looks to get a shot away Picture: James Heaton.

Runners-up position will be secured if Ponte beat Gresley in their final league match this Saturday, but a point may be enough as they go into the last day of the regular season two ahead of Brighouse Town.

Colls could meet Ossett United again in the play-offs and took confidence from their performance against them on Monday when it was a tale of two penalties, one scored and one missed by Ponte.

In front of a bumper crowd of more than 600, the two West Yorkshire teams put on a competitive game that looked like going the visitors’ way until Ossett came up with a late equaliser.

Colls started brightly, taking the game to their opponents. But they squandered an early great chance to take the lead when awarded a penalty as the usually reliable Vaughan Redford saw his spot kick saved.

Gavin Rothery tries to get round a Sheffield defender. Picture: James Heaton

Gavin Rothery tries to get round a Sheffield defender. Picture: James Heaton

Undeterred, Ponte fashioned another chance soon after, but Nick Guest’s effort was cleared off the line.

Ossett created their best chance of the first half as Adam Priestley got in behind the visitors’ defence only for keeper Ryan Musselwhite to make a big save.

Right at the end of the half it was Colls on the attack with Spencer Clarke heading over from a great Connor Smythe cross.

The deadlock was broken four minutes into the second half when Ponte were awarded their second penalty and this time Redford made no mistake.

Defender Spencer Clarke goes up for a header with several Sheffield players. Picture: James Heaton

Defender Spencer Clarke goes up for a header with several Sheffield players. Picture: James Heaton

They had chances to seal victory with Clarke heading wide from a long throw by Jack Greenhough and Chris Jackson beating the home keeper with a lobbed shot only to see it cleared off the line.

But in the 90th minute United came up with an equaliser when the ball dropped kindly for Andy Monkhouse to find the back of the net and the point all but secured a play-off spot for the Ossett team.

Pontefract were in dominant form last Saturday as they took another of their play-off rivals, Sheffield FC, apart in the first half.

They were soon in control and ahead after just seven minutes with midfielder Gavin Rothery getting forward to open the scoring.

Sheffield were looking for points to cement their place in the end of season play-offs alongside Colls, but were second best all over the pitch with the home side doubling their advantage on 23 minutes through Mikey Dunn after a quick throw in caught Sheffield out.

It was 3-0 before half-time as Vaughan Redford stepped up to put away a penalty.

The second half was more of an anti-climax as Sheffield tightened up at the back and came more into the game, but all the damage had been done with Ponte able to see out the game comfortably in the hot weather for their eighth win in 10 games.

The result meant Ponte have now taken points off every other team in their first season in the Evo-Stik League and beaten all bar three opposing sides at least once.

Colls now look ahead to their final league game of the season as they host bottom of the table Gresley this Saturday.

Dates and times for their forthcoming promotion play-off semi-final will be revealed shortly.