BRIGHOUSE Town progressed through in the West Riding County Cup to set up a mouth-watering second round derby against FC Halifax Town at the Shay.
Although Town should have been out of sight after the opening 20 minutes on chances created, Pontefract made this a contest right to the end, and the game was played at a high tempo throughout.
Town’s first chance came after only five minutes when a cross from the right wing found Danny Naidole who did not quite make the right contact on the ball and his shot was saved.
The first goal was not long in coming and had the unusual feature of an assist credited to the goalkeeper.
Ben Imeson’s long clearance was misjudged by the visitors’ defence and Craig Thompson ran on to the ball before rounding the keeper and putting Town ahead.
Pontefract’s first chance came on 15 minutes when a powerful drive from Connor Rollinson was just wide of the target.
Town then hit the crossbar three times in three minutes.
First Thompson set up Alex O’Keefe then Anthony Haigh, back from suspension, struck the bar twice more.
This let-off seemed to inspire Pontefract as they started to get a foothold.
Tall centre forward James Hicks was a constant threat in the air and wingers Rollinson and Will Ramsey were dangerous when given space.
Imeson pulled off a save from Rollinson on 28 minutes, quickly followed by a good challenge on the edge of the box by Josh Williams as Pontefract had a spell of pressure.
It was slightly against the run of play when Town made it 2-0.
O’Keefe showed great attitude to chase back and defend the ball in his own area.Thompson carried itdown the right before picking out Haigh in the box who side-footed into the net.
For the second game running, Town made a sloppy start to the second half and they should have conceded in the first minute when Greg McGrory missed a simple header in front of goal.
But he made Town pay a minute later when he turned home Rollinson’s cross.
Just as Pontefract sensed a comeback, Town quickly regained their two goal cushion when Williams challenged for Sutcliffe’s free-kick with keeper Lee Kelsey and the ball broke for Naidole to stab home to make it 3 – 1.
Thompson, who looked to have regained his sharpness after a lengthy injury, was replaced by Shane Hamilton on 56 minutes.
Pontefract were not deflated by the third goal and the game settled into a fairly even contest.
The visitors put the ball forward into the channels at every opportunity which meant the Town back four never had a rest, but Nick Jagger, Tom Brown, Sutcliffe and Williams stuck to their task and in the main their concentration was good.
Ryan Brook and Miles Smith in front of the back four worked hard to control the midfield for Town.
O’Keefe threatened with a volley following a corner on 66 minutes, then Town brought on Danny Facey for Naidole to run against a tiring defence.
The best chance of the half fell to Pontefract with 15 minutes left when Warren Redford broke clear to go one-on-one with Imeson but the Town keeper came out on top to deny Pontefract the chance to make it a nervy ending.
Town then saw the game out comfortably to set up the first ever competitive match between Halifax Town and Brighouse Town.