Pontefract Collieries’ seven-match unbeaten run came to an end when they went down 4-2 away to an improving Cleethorpes Town side in the Evo-Stik League’s East Division.
Colls were left frustrated by several refereeing decisions, but results elsewhere meant there was not too much damage done with leaders Morpeth Town losing at home to Frickley Athletic.
Despite the defeat Ponte remained in third place in the table and still very much on course for a place in the end of season play-offs at least.
They were on the back foot initially, but a good block and a save by Ryan Musselwhite prevented Cleethorpes from taking an early lead.
Colls’ first chance saw them take the lead on 17 minutes when Eli Hey’s initial header was saved before he reacted well to fire in from the rebound.
Hey had a chance for a second, but sent his shot just wide while the hosts had a good chance only to drag the effort off target.
Cleethorpes levelled on 36 minutes when Paul Walker headed home from a corner.
They were then awarded a controversial penalty in first half injury-time, which Josh Batty put away to make it 2-1.
Ponte’s task got harder early in the second half after another controversial decision saw midfielder Gavin Rothery sent-off.
With their extra man the home side made it 3-1 though Andrew Taylor and Colls found it hard to hit back. As they threw men forward in a vain bid to snatch something from the game they were caught on the break with Alex Flett netting eight minutes from time.
Ponte kept going, however, and were rewarded with a second goal as top scorer Hey put away a penalty after his side were this time on the right end of a decision from the referee.
Assistant manager Craig Rouse had no complaints with the result, saying: “It was not our day, the best side won. Heads down and work hard to react next week.”
Pontefract will be looking to bounce back this Saturday when at home to Belper Town, who are four places below them, but only three points behind.