Pontefract Collieries’ first-ever game in the FA Trophy proved disappointing as they went out of the competition at the preliminary round stage with a 3-2 defeat at Clitheroe.
The result was all the more frustrating as Colls looked to be heading through when two up at half-time. They had worked hard to establish a good lead at the break only for two goals in a minute early in the second half to undo it all. Clitheroe then came up with a late winner to leave Ponte with valuable lessons to learn.
Colls were the better side in the opening half and could have been ahead as early as the third minute when only an incredible save at point break range by home keeper Cameron Terry kept a header out.
Another Terry save kept the game scoreless before the goal the visitors’ play deserved arrived just after the half-hour as Jake Picton headed home from a corner after getting free in the area.
It was 2-0 on 40 minutes, when Eli Hey did well to make space on the edge of the box and fired home a shot.
The lead could have been added to just before the break, but a third excellent save in the half from Terry denied Hey.
The break proved more beneficial to Clitheroe as they were level within four minutes of the restart.
First, Josh Gregory’s pass sent Antoine Recizac through to dink the ball past Ryan Musselwhite then Max Hazeldine netted from another Gregory assist.
It was nip and tuck from then on, but the hosts had the strong wind at their backs and came up with a winner eight minutes from time as James Sloane latched onto Recizac’s through ball to score.
Colls forced some late pressure, but were unable to send the tie into extra-time and it is back to the league now for them.
They have drawn their last three games in the Evo-Stik East Division, the latest coming last Wednesday when they finished 1-1 with leaders Morpeth Town, Vaughan Redford scoring their only goal.
This Saturday Ponte are away to Belper Town (3pm), looking to improve their sixth place in the table.