A youthful Harrogate Town side comprising mainly players from its under-21 squad was eliminated from the West Riding FA County Cup on Monday night by Pontefract Collieries.
Lloyd Kerry and Louie Swain –both of whom are playing their way back to fitness following long-term injury lay-offs – were the only two senior players to feature for the hosts against the NCEL Premier Division high-flyers, who eventually triumphed by a 5-1 scoreline.
Three goals inside the opening quarter of an hour for the visitors demonstrated the gulf between the two teams and left Town facing a mountain to climb.
Jamie Williams’ header from a corner handed Pontefract a seventh-minute lead, and Mark Whitehouse doubled his side’s advantage soon afterwards.
A low cross from the right then saw Whitehouse get to the ball ahead of Harrogate’s Brad Swain to add the Colliery side’s third.
Three minutes before the break Morgan Smith’s shot was parried into the path of Kerry who followed up on the loose ball to give Town a lifeline going into the second half.
Despite the hosts making a bright start after the resumption, Pontefract got their fourth goal in the 50th minute when Andy Higgins was narrowly beaten to the ball on the right wing allowing Eli Hey to run towards goal unchallenged and slot past Liam Powell.
The visitors’ fifth arrived with just over ten minutes left to play as a weak header back towards gloveman Powell led to the Town number one bring down an attacker and giving away a spot-kick that Hey coolly converted to round things off.