Toolstation NCEL Division One
Worsbrough Bridge 0-2 Pontefract Collieries
Pontefract Collieries had to sail over choppy water to win promotion on a thrilling final day after goalkeeper Ben Saynor was sent off during the first half.
Key defender Jimmy Williams had to go between the sticks for 50 minutes as the battle for the top two threw up numerous twists on the day of reckoning.
Goals from Chris Wood and Mikey Dunn either side of the red card propelled the Colls above AFC Emley above in the table on goal difference and back into the NCEL top flight at the first attempt.
There was even more high drama late-on as Dunn also missed a penalty which would have sealed promotion.
Fingers were probably chewed off by their huge following of supporters, officials, junior team managers, junior team players, disability team managers, disability team players. Overall though, the Colls’ second half display was one of discipline as Worsbrough rarely threatened despite their man advantage.
Hall Road Rangers won the title with their win at Campion, consigning Emley to the play-offs after what has been the best Division One promotion race in recent memory.
The Colls literally clinched second place thanks to having a three-goal better goal difference over Emley.
Pontefract had a win-or-bust attitude at Worsbrough. A point would only be good enough for promotion if Campion beat Hall Road.
The Colls attacked from the off. Offside flags and fouls littered the opening 25 minutes before Wood pounced on the rebound from a fine Kane Reece strike to start Pontefract’s promotion engine.
Then came the dramatic moment. The Colls defence switched off, allowing former player Jack Mawson to break clear. Saynor came racing out of his box and wiped the attacker out. Referee Ellis Mills was Johnny on the spot and sent him off for a reckless challenge, rather than denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
Many expected Worsbrough to equalise. Instead, Bridge failed to test makeshift goalkeeper Williams from the free kick and the Colls went down the other end and got the promotion-sealing goal.
It was local lad Dunn, who carved out a path himself down the left before cutting inside to slot home, despite some desperate defending from Worsbrough, whose defenders thought they had cleared the ball off-the-line.
The second half saw one of Pontefract’s most compact and bravest performances of the season. Despite Worsbrough attacking downhill in the second half, most of the 45 minutes was spent in the other half. Williams did not have a shot to save.
But instead of killing Worsbrough off, the Colls gave their supporters one of the nervous halves of their lives.
They wasted good territory. Even when Bridge captain Connor Rollinson brought down Dunn in the penalty area, the spot kick was missed as the attacker put it high and wide.
As the final ten minutes approached, there was a growing feeling, the Colls had done enough. There was emotion for Worsbrough when young Matty Pinder made his return to action, six months from being diagnosed with a serious illness.
His first act was to dispossess Dunn, a key lynchpin in Pontefract’s successful promotion bid.
Once the final whistle sounded on a terrific season, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate for both teams.
What They Said
Worsbrough Bridge player/manager Josh Wright
Pontefract Collieries manager Craig Parry
Worsbrough Bridge: Herring, Connor Rollinson (captain) (Wiltshire 77), Thompson (Gill HT) (Pinder 80), Calan Rollinson, Singleton, Chadburn, Enos, White, Guest, Mawson, Pleasants. Subs unused: Long, Wright.
Pontefract Collieries: Saynor, Greenhough, Jeffs, Seed (captain), Williams, Clarke, Cotton (Whitehouse 87), Reece, Wood (Stapleton 61), Jackson, Dunn. Sub unused: Rouse.
Man of the Match
Kane Reece (Pontefract Collieries)
Following the dismissal of Ben Saynor, the superb attacker was forced to go in the unfamiliar right-back position where he was put in a tremendous shift.