Sat 12 March 2016, Pontefract Collieries v Nostell MW (NCEL Prem)

Match Details: Pontefract Collieries 1 Nostell Miners Welfare 1 (NCEL Premier Division)

Goalscorers: [Ponty] Nigel Danby (80); [Nostell] Steve Smith (2)

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Location: Skinner Lane, Pontefract, West Yorkshire
Admission: £5 (Programme £1.50)
Attendance: 65
Ground Overview: See previous reports from Ponty for more info; the ground is pretty much unchanged (though every year they seem to have to rebuild a bit more of the perimeter wall – either due to high winds or local neds on stolen bulldozers). One change in the surroundings is at the ‘car park field’ side there is a small new housing development, and what appears to be some sort of rather unsightly new build warehouse next to it (the latter is the green ‘box’ with yellow edges on the above pic).

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Match Report: Despite their close proximity, this was as far as I can remember, the first time I have ever seen these two teams plays each other. Since Ponty got promoted last year, they now both sit in the same division – though sadly both are also facing a battle to avoid the drop, with Nostell sitting second-from-bottom and Pontefract just four places and three points above them. So a local ding-dong relegation battle in effect.
Both clubs have recently taken evasive action to try and escape the relegation trapdoor. Ponty have Liam Radford and last season’s top scorer Aaron Moxam back at the club, and another returning striker, Kingsley Wetherald, on the bench. Up the road in Crofton, Nostell boss Paul Lines resigned at the start of February, with Under-19s manager Kevin Allsop also taking on the first team on initially an interim basis.
As a contest, this was a great game to watch, and highly absorbing throughout… though there were more late tackles on show than any game in my living memory! It was through effort and desire rather than malice though, coupled with a heavy pitch and a wee bit of ‘legs not quite able to keep up with the mind’ on a few occasions. It was no surprise though that there were a raft of bookings and one sending off notched up.

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Nostell got off to a dream start, taking the lead with less than two minutes on the clock. Steve Smith found himself in some space on the left side of the box with the ball at his feet, and fired confidently past Ponty keeper Liam Corbett. In general it was the away side who looked the more potent when going forward, so it was a tad disappointing that a policy of slowing things down to a snail’s pace from then on in was chosen as a tactic in dead ball situations, when keeping the momentum up and going for a second goal against a Ponty side who were often there for the taking seemed a much better option. Inevitably, as the game wore on, Ponty became the more determined of the two sides to score, and by the time their equaliser came on 80 minutes, Nostell had lost their grip on the game, and ended it hanging on for a draw instead. By this point they were also down to ten men after sub Devonte Morton had managed to get himself sent off within five minutes of coming on, after some jiggery-pokery with a Ponty player whilst waiting for a free kick to come over, which left his opponent face down on the ground.
A wholly absorbing game though, which you couldn’t take your eyes off for one second for fear of missing a key moment. Ponty’s fighting spirit was epitomised by centre-half Nigel Danby, now also acting as assistant manager of the club. Not the quickest or most technically gifted player on the pitch by a long chalk, but the rock at the back, focus of every corner, and source of the piercing cry of “Danbyyyyy’ss!!” whenever the ball was in the air within 20 feet of him. After being jostled out of any headed opportunities, he eventually got his moment with a 25-yard direct free kick, which became the source of a Danby piledriver. If he isn’t already nicknamed ‘The Tank’, then he should be.
Elsewhere, I thought Ponty looked a bit disjointed up front compared to the last couple of times I’ve seen them, which was surprising given their recent addition of a previously potent strikeforce. Indeed, of the two sides, going on this performance, Nostell look more like they have the required creativity going forward and a reliable enough defence to put up a good fight against relegation, and just need to tighten up in a couple of areas and maybe alter their mindset against holding on to slender leads. Hopefully for the sake of two local sides, both can have good run-ins though, between now and the end of the season.
As ever, the Colls’ tea hut was Premier Division class for hot food and a brew, though disappointingly the barrels in the bar were all kaput and it was canned beer only beforehand. Also worth mentioning for anyone visiting Ponty in the near future, as well as Wetherspoons and the Robin Hood which should have a decent selection of ales available, the ‘under new management’ Tap & Barrel just up the hill on the way into town has re-opened and is worth a look too in its new guise.
And now, The Gallery:-
cropPicture 210 sml.jpg(A cuddle – sorry, ‘corner’ – for Ponty, as they go in search of the equaliser..)
cropPicture 170 sml(In my day it was a rub with a wet sponge! – Nostell’s physio applies a more modern take on things)

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Daaannnbyyyyyy’s!!!” – Big Nige blasts a 25-yard screamer which just clipped the inside of the far post on its way in, for Ponty’s Roberto Carlos-esque equaliser. I gather such things are a rarity – to wit, the bloke who fetches the stray balls had already got the gate open in readiness for retrieving it from the adjoining field! Meanwhile, in fairness Nostell’s cause was not helped by the ‘3 man wall’ seeming to have a couple of rather large gaps in it! (are players nowadays really taught to put both hands behind their back when defending a free kick, rather than a combination of linking arms and protecting the crown jewels?)

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(Nostell had a golden opportunity to win the game in the second half, but Ponty’s Liam Corbett guessed correctly and so easily kept out Matthew Johnson’s penalty.)

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‘The Tank’ launches himself at the Nostell rearguard

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(As well as the now long-gone colliery, the power station in the background is also on borrowed time. Meanwhile the local zero-hour + 12-week contract warehouse job market is booming)

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More photos from the above match available online at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thedribblingcode/

**Blog updates available via @dribblingcode on Twitter.**

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cropPicture 420 smlMore photos from the above match available online at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thedribblingcode/

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