The Owls showed tremendous collective spirit to battle to an important 2-1 win at Pontefract Collieries in the Northern Premier League on Tuesday evening. An early strike from Alex Flett and a late Jon Oglesby effort saw off a rugged home outfit.
Manager Dave Smith welcomed back Tim Lowe to the starting XI. Also, in from the weekend FA Cup victory were Liam Dickens and Scott Vernon. Lewis Brownhill was away, with Josh Smaller and Harry Middleton on the bench.
The side lined-up as follows in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Goal: Tom Jackson
Defence: Tim Lowe, Jordon Cooke, Oli Donald, Sam Topliss
Midfield 1: Liam Dickens, Josh Venney
Midfield 2: Brody Robertson, Alex Flett (c), Jon Oglesby
Attack: Scott Vernon
Subs: Lennon Stead, Loz McKay, Josh Smaller, Harry Middleton, Andy Pettinger (gk)
A good following from the East coast was in position by kick-off on a pleasantly warm evening in West Yorkshire, and the visiting contingent did not have long to wait before cheering a goal!
Vernon rose to knock-down a through ball, which fell perfectly for the advancing Alex Flett. The captain did not hesitate, blasting in past stopper Musselwhite from 20-yards out to open the scoring for the second match in succession.
Clee had come flying out of the traps and were in command through the opening stages. Robertson went within a whisker of doubling the advantage, but the effort was just the wrong side of the upright.
Pontefract suddenly burst to life though in the 18th minute. Regular nemesis Eli Hey was on hand to finish off a good move, the prolific striker making no mistake from close range.
The rest of the half was nip and tuck. Clee were more than holding their own though, and Vernon had the best moment, seeing his header well saved by Musselwhite.
HT Pontefract Collieries 1 (Hey 17) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Flett 4)
If the management team were pleased with the efforts before the interval, they would have been delighted with their charges in the second 45. The Owls really galvanised themselves to both defend and attack as a unit, which ultimately bore fruit.
First though, they were indebted to Tom Jackson in the 56th minute. Redford cut past his man and his powerful shot looked destined for the net. The Owls’ keeper had other ideas, rising at full stretch to fingertip the ball onto the crossbar and over.
Challenges were beginning to fly in as tempers frayed, with the referee called into action to make numerous stoppages. Four Ponte men were to see yellow but Clee managed to keep out of the notebook for a remarkable fifth game on the bounce.
With the clock ticking on, it seemed inevitable that the next strike would be the winner, and so it proved.
The evergreen Jon Oglesby picked up possession on the apex of the box. In typical fashion, the winger cut in from the left and let fly. The daisy-cutter was on-target but Musselwhite had it covered, before it cannoned in off an unfortunate defender.
Certainly a slice of luck, but no-one in yellow was bothered about that, as the players rushed together to celebrate.
With the prospect of 3 road points on offer, the team re-doubled their resolve to see out the result. This was done with clever game management, the closing stages being largely played out in opposition territory.
FT Pontefract Collieries 1 (Hey 17) Cleethorpes Town 2 (Flett 4, Oglesby 77) Attendance: 217
A superb win – I am sure that we will look back at this result as a very important one!
Great spirit from the lads and a real boost with a bank holiday double-header to come. It is clear to me from the opening 3 NPL games that the division is going to be extremely competitive, with some surprise results.
Thanks for the excellent support last night, hope to see you at the Myenergi Stadium on Saturday (3pm), when we welcome Shildon.
UP THE OWLS!