A CONFIDENT performance enabled Emley to defeat promotion-chasing Pontefract Collieries 3-2 at the Welfare Ground.
Two goals from in-form Steven Kenworthy and a cracker from Alex Barnes took Emley to three precious points – and a third consecutive win – from the Northern Counties East League Division I clash against a Collieries side who had gone undefeated in the league since August.
Manager Darren Hepworth was without goalkeeper Mick Clarke and key midfielder Josh Ingham through suspension, but Martin Kearney and Mark Townsend returned to the side.
Anthony Haigh made his first start for the club up front in place of Dean Wharam, partnering Kenworthy, while the visitors had a familiar look about them with ex-Emley trio Andy Broadbent, Duncan Bray and Nick Handley in the starting line up with Josh Wright and Craig Rouse on the bench.
Emley made a dream start to the game as Barnes found himself in space and he unleashed an unstoppable shot past Sam Dobbs in the Pontefract goal.
Colls responded and Bray had a great chance to level the scores, but took a touch too many and fired wide.
Dobbs then saved a Kenworthy effort and Max Joice also forced a good save from the Pontefract keeper with a curling effort from a free-kick.
Kenworthy was again denied by a fine challenge from Johnny Forsyth, but the striker was rewarded for his efforts on the half hour mark.
Emley broke as Kearney punched out a corner kick to Kenworthy, who flicked on to Haigh and he raced through the opposition finding Barnes, whose half-hit shot ran into the path of Kenworthy who converted from close range.
Ryan Poskitt was booked for the visitors after a lunge at Nathan Tayo and Pontefract brought on Wright at half time and played with a greater purpose in the second half.
Haigh did go close for Emley in the early stages of the half with Ringrose again the provider, but Colls’ captain Handley got his side back in the game on 55 minutes with a sweetly-struck volley from a corner.
Minutes later Craig Stephens almost got them back on level terms but flashed a shot across the face of goal after Bray had beaten the Emley defence.
Bray had a couple of good chances to make a scoring return to the Welfare Ground, where he had started his career as a junior, but was inches away from connecting with a fine cross from Poskitt and brought a good point-blank block from Kearney.
With 10 minutes left Pontefract manager Simon Houghton threw on Rouse in search of an equaliser, while Hepworth replaced widemen Barnes and Ringrose with the fresh legs of Brad Dowling and Curtis Roberts.
Five minutes later Fothergill slid in to level the scores after Kearney had been left exposed by his defence and, with the momentum behind the visitors, they looked most likely to snatch a winning goal.
Roberts had other ideas, however, and with his first touch he broke down the right wing before delivering a superb cross into the path of Kenworthy who dived in to score with a bullet header.
Emley face a tough task when they travel to table-toppers Staveley tonight (7.45) and they then travel to Grimsby Borough’s new stadium on Saturday (3.00).
AFC Emley: Kearney, Leech, Tayo, Joice, Hazelden, Colley, Townsend, Ringrose (Roberts), Kenworthy, Haigh, Barnes (Dowling). Sub (not used): Hewitt.