Dunston UTS v Pontefract Collieries


Report by Billy Montague

Saturday 25th August 2018

Emirates FA Cup – Preliminary Round

Attendance 241


Dunston welcomed Pontefract Collieries of the Evo-Stik East League to the UTS Stadium for this Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round Tie. The visitors made the 100-mile trip from West Yorkshire full of confidence, after winning both of their opening League games at the higher level which they reached after consecutive promotions. Dunston UTS manager Chris Swailes was forced to change his team with in-form team-captain Dan Halliday unavailable so Callum Elliott was selected in an unfamiliar left-back role in an otherwise unchanged team. Andrew Grant-Soulsby took over the captaincy for the first time.


Dunston UTS: Dryden, Marrs, Elliott C, Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Capewell, Thear, Pearson (Haley), Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Brooks), Elliott J (Nellis). Subs not used: Hall, Smith, Little.


Pontefract Collieries: Musselwhite, Greenhough, Smythe, Cromack (Willis), Williams, Picton, Redford, Brown (Clarke), Hey, Dunn, Dugdale (Starchenko). Subs not used: Jeffs, Whitehouse, Swain.


Dunston started confidently and forced the pace from the off with the referee awarding an indirect free-kick right on the edge of the visitors’ box after only 2 minutes. Jake Stafford squared the free-kick to Liam Thear but keeper Ryan Musselwhite left his line to bravely block Thear’s driven effort. On 8 minutes, Liam Marrs made a good run on the right and his cross saw Scott Heslop send a low shot against the post with Musselwhite beaten. Dunston continued to press with the Colls only showing on the break. Another good home attack in the 15th minute resulted in a Mark Fitzpatrick shot but his effort was cleared off the Colls’ goal-line. From the long clearance it looked like the Dunston defence had everything under control but an understrength back-pass allowed Pontefract top-scorer Eli Hey to nip in and skillfully beat keeper Karl Dryden to give the visitors a shock lead. 0 – 1.



Dunston were shaken by this set-back and it took them a few minutes to respond when a long shot from Jake Stafford was comfortably held by Musselwhite. In reply, Colls midfielder Cody Cromack made ground on 18 minutes but his low shot flew well wide of the target. Jack Elliott went on a great run in-field from the left in the 22nd minute, beating three defenders before sending a shot across goal and just past the far post. He repeated the magic a minute later but this time he sent in a telling low cross which was met by Scott Heslop at the far post with Musselwhite pulling of a magnificent save to block the shot. The pressure was maintained by Dunston but some stout defending and blatant time-wasting kept them at bay.


Pontefract eventually made another chance on 35 minutes but left-back Conner Smythe shot wide from 25 yards. Dunston responded in the next minute when Liam Thear fashioned an opening by beating two defenders in the box before firing agonisingly wide of the post. The visitors were using every trick in the book to delay proceedings, slow to get the ball back into play from goal-kicks, throw-ins, and feigning injury whenever possible. They almost paid the price when Jack Elliott nearly scored on 42 minutes when he sent a rocket shot narrowly over the bar with the keeper beaten.


Half-Time Score: Dunston UTS 0 Pontefract Collieries 1

After a frustrating first 45 minutes, Dunston came out in determined style in the second-half but the visitors were in no mood to relinquish their lead. They were sitting deep and not taking many risks but Liam Thear almost unlocked their defence in the 52nd minute when he cut along the left bye-line, beating several defenders with great control. He weaved right across the six-yard box looking for a clear opening but his final effort was blocked by Musselwhite. The loose ball fell to Mark Fitzpatrick who looked a likely scorer but a last ditch lunge by Jimmy Williams deflected the ball past the angle. Pontefract broke away on 56 minutes with clever play by Michael Dunn but his good work was wasted when Cody Cromack shot wastefully over Dryden’s bar. Mark Fitzpatrick produced a superb run towards goal on 61 minutes but when he drew the defenders, his pull-back went just behind the onrushing Scott Heslop and Liam Thear. Dunston had the bit between their teeth now and were making chance after chance and the game entered a crazy phase with four goals being scored in the space of seven minutes. In the 72nd minute, brilliant work on the right between Scott Heslop and Liam Thear saw the ball squared to Mark Fitzpatrick on the edge of the box and keeper Musselwhite was left helpless as the Dunston top scorer smashed home the equaliser. 1 – 1.

Dunston’s joy was short-lived however, as they lost concentration to allow Eli Hey to get on the end of a Jack Greenhough long-throw to turn home in the 74th minute. 1 – 2.

Two minutes later, another superb run by Liam Thear, this time on the right, saw him slalom past three defenders on the bye-line before being chopped down by Jimmy Williams for a penalty-kick. Mark Fitzpatrick stepped up to confidently despatch the spot-kick. 2 – 2.

Before the spectators could catch their breath, there was a chance at the other end on 77 minutes when the impressive Michael Dunn cut inside onto a pass from Eli Hey but his shot flew over. Dunston roared back and took the lead in the 79th minute when Liam Thear was at it again on the left, beating two defenders before sending over a cross which was met by Scott Heslop at the far post and his volley sailed across Musselwhite into the net. 3 – 2.

Heslop jarred his knee in the process of scoring and had to leave the field to be replaced by substitute Liam Brooks. The Colls were visibly shocked by the turn-around and it was Dunston who were forcing the pace now. The earlier blatant time-wasting was replaced by urgency but as the visitors pushed out, they were leaving more space to exploit. The home defence dominated and were able to ensure that Karl Dryden was relatively untroubled and at the other end, Mark Fitzpatrick, Liam Brooks and Liam Thear were carving out several scoring chances. On 87 minutes Jack Elliott was replaced by Jordan Nellis who posed a new threat to the Colls stretched back-line. The referee indicated that he would play seven minutes of added-time due to the visitors’ time-wasting throughout the half but it was the home side who looked the more likely to add to the score. The clinching goal finally arrived after six of those minutes has elapsed when good passing play between Liam Brooks and Liam Thear ended with Mark Fitzpatrick stepping over the square ball to leave Jordan Nellis in space on the edge of the box to hammer home the crucial fourth goal. 4 – 2.

Full-Time Score: Dunston UTS 4 Pontefract Collieries 2

Dunston’s Man of the Match: Liam Thear – Liam was always willing to get the ball at his feet and take on defenders (however many there were in front of him)! Sometimes it doesn’t come off but his positivity creates havoc in opposing defences. Another gritty all-round performance from the whole team.

Dunston UTS man of the match Liam Thear.



Video Highlights       Match Pictures By Ron Aitchison