Champions complete spectacular tumble

Murton 2 Ponteland United 1 Northern Football Alliance, Premier Division

THEY say the league table doesn’t lie and the two bottom teams in the division played each other, with Murton already stranded at the foot of the table and United needing a win to have any chance of surviving relegation after 28 years in the Premier Division.

Murton, with nothing to play for other than pride, gave an early warning to the visitors on 15 minutes when a weak clearance at the back allowed Luke Wallace a shot on goal but he pulled his shot wide.

Five minutes later, United were punished when another long ball wasn’t dealt with and Liam Wintrip this time made no mistake, shooting inside the left upright.

Chris Flynn, continuing to play in an unfamiliar left midfield role, had an opportunity to equalise when he collected Wood’s free-kick but his shot was tipped over the bar for a corner. This was cleared by Murton and, with United out of position, they broke quickly down the right with Dan Dunn tracking back to cover. He was beaten down the outside by Wallace and as he got into the box was caught by the tracking Dunn for a penalty.

Sean English converted, giving Blair no chance.

United were visibly shocked and perhaps understandably lost their way with no fluency or composure to their game.

Warren battled hard in midfield and set up Flynn but his low, hard shot was saved by keeper Aiden Vout with his feet.

Half-time came, leaving United with a mountain to climb.

At the beginning of the second half, Wallace beat Bell down the left and crossed to the unmarked Sinclair in front of goal but somehow he miscued and the ball rolled wide.

With 25 minutes to go, manager Havelock made three substitutions bringing on teenagers L’Argent, Stephenson and Connor.

With no pressure on the young lads, their impact was immediate, bringing some pace to the wings and they took the game to Murton.

Ponteland gained in confidence and their reward came with 10 minutes remaining with the best move of the game.

Stephenson played L’Argent down the left-wing and he outpaced the full-back and delivered a superb cross into the path of the hard-working Dan Dunn, who side-footed the ball home.

Pont’s spirit was undeniable and they kept going to the end. Powell had the ball in the net following a free-kick by Rankin but the linesman had flagged for an earlier offside, much to the disappointment of the Pont lads.

Both teams left the field propping up the Premier Division and, from this display, both teams will have difficult jobs rebuilding for next season.