Northbank Carlisle 1 Ponteland United 4 Northern Alliance, Division One
AFTER last week’s disappointing cup semi-final display, manager Michael Havelock made a few changes for the return to league action against third-placed team Northbank Carlisle who United beat 4-1 at Ponteland four months ago.
Richard Kent came in for the absent Craig Cook, Anderson and Davidson retained their places after coming on as substitutes last week and the defence was improved by the return of Chris Armstrong.
On a beautiful afternoon for football, United got off to a flying start when Anderson fired them in front after only two minutes.
A terrific flowing move down the left involving Davidson, Kent and Wright ended with Wright switching the ball across to Anderson who confidently shot past Lee Tedford.
With Aaron Roberts and Mark Worrall up front for the home side, United had to be on their guard though.
With 10 minutes gone, Jones headed behind for a corner to prevent the ball reaching Roberts in a good position.
From the in-swinging corner, the ball evaded everyone in the goalmouth and went harmlessly through for a goal-kick.
Ponteland then had a corner themselves and although Scott won the ball comfortably, he couldn’t direct it on goal.
Hodgson then sent in a corner from the other wing but the ball was missed by forwards and defenders alike.
On 18 minutes, Dan Wright turned his man brilliantly and played Davidson in on goal .
But the normally reliable front man was denied by the outstretched arm of Tedford.
Wright headed over frm the resultant corner.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Northbank had a free-kick which was headed well clear by Armstrong to send Ponteland on the counter.
Davidson played out wide to Wright who went down the wing before passing into the middle for Davidson to give Tedford no chance.
Davidson celebrated the moment and suffice to say got booked for the privilege of waving his shirt in the air! Is the rule really necessary, said one spectator.
Ten minutes before half-time, Worrall broke clear of the Pont defence and slipped the ball past Taylor to put the Cumbrians back into the match.
However, their celebration was short-lived.
Anderson and Davidson combined well on the right before a long cross ball from Anderson found full-back L’Argent in acres of space on the left, albeit 25 yards from goal.
The former Ponteland junior and exciting prospect hit a superb strike into the top corner for his first goal in adult football and what a goal it was to savour.
Half-time came with United looking good value for their 3-1 lead.
The speed of Wright and Kent up front was a constant threat to the Northbank rearguard.
Further goals looked inevitable.
Indeed 10 minutes into the second half, Kent burst down the left and wriggled past a couple of players before crossing for Anderson to head home his second and put United in a commanding position.
To their credit, Northbank kept going and started to have more of the ball.
The dangerous Worral collected and turned inside in one movement and only an excellent save by Taylor denied the striker a second goal.
Scott was then penalised just outside the area and substitute John Slaven’s fierce free-kick smacked into the wall and was cleared.
With 25 minutes to go, Willis, who hasn’t played much football this season, replaced Davidson and was soon in the action.
He jinked down the left beating a couple of players before passing to Dan Wright whose volley on the swivel was tipped onto the bar and over by Tedford.
Rae was then through on goal and was in two minds whether to chip the keeper or pass.
In the end he did neither and the keeper collected easily.
At the other end, substitute Olly Driver burst through on goal and shot early but well over the bar.
With 15 minutes to go, another Pont flowing move started with Jones feeding Anderson down the right.
Anderson switched play with a cross into the path of Willis who teed the ball up for Kent but he just couldn’t get enough on it to poke the ball past Tedford.
There was just time for the hard-working Worral to try again and get his second goal but once again he was denied by Taylor.
After only playing 10 games in the last four months, five of which have been cup ties, Ponteland would be delighted to get back to league action and secure three points before returning to cup action in the next two games.
The first half was as good as they’ve played lately but perhaps inevitably due to the lead they’d earned they became a little too complacent in the second period and took their foot of the gas.