History-makers as Ponteland win Minor Cup for first time

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Ponteland United 3-1 Alnmouth United

(After extra-time)

Ponteland were making what was probably their only ever appearance in the NFA Stelrad Minor Cup Final although in fairness in previous years they didn’t take part owing to being in either the Senior Cup or Benevolent Bowl NFA competitions.

In a season which has been severely affected by postponements due to waterlogged pitches the Minor Cup takes up a considerable part of the season for the finalists as this was Pont’s seventh game in the competition.

Earlier in the competition Alnmouth United had in fact disposed of Pont’s Reserves in a close encounter which they won 2 – 0.

In the absence of cup tied Alex Benjamin Gary Cook returned to the starting line up but Pont were also without the cup tied Chris Douglas and Zac Bewley through injury.

Pont started brightly playing the ball swiftly around the pitch. They should have scored on eight minutes when Ethan Bewley delivered a terrific cross into the box for the inrushing Billy Holden but his firm header was brilliantly saved by keeper Ashurst. However two minutes later Pont did get the early goal when a ball down the channel found Cook who ran beyond his marker before firing confidently past Ashurst.

Bewley was causing problems down the left and another good ball was partially cleared out wide to the right and when that cross came in Bewley controlled and shot on the turn but over the bar. Just before that Havelock-Brown had cleared from his own goal line following an Alnmouth corner which was headed towards goal. Cook then looked to have what was a good shout for a penalty as he was clipped as he wriggled into the penalty area on the left but he tried to stay on his feet and the referee wasn’t interested. In fairness Pont’s appeal was half hearted.

At this stage Pont were playing some good football and another fluid move involving Havelock-Brown and McDermott ended with a cross into the path of Holden but this time he volleyed powerfully over the bar. Alnmouth looked more dangerous with set pieces but Matthew Robson shot well wide from a corner and Daniel Donohoe tried his luck with a free kick from 30 yards and this flew high and wide of the goal.

Five minutes before half time good interplay between Havelock-Brown, Bewley and McDermott ended with the latter getting beyond the defence but was unfortunate to see his shot hit the base of the post. Pont went in at half time with a slender lead when it’s fair to say they could have had their name on the cup at this mid way stage.

In the second half Havelock-Brown and McDermott continued where they had left of feeding Cook heading towards goal but his shot was well saved by the keeper. Another good flowing quick passing move ended with a corner which Ford headed back across goal to McIvor whose fierce left foot shot rattled the cross bar.

At the other end Matthew Robson saw his well struck shot parried away by Bowey-Tyler before Spencer cleared the danger.

With 30 minutes to go it was a McDermott shot which

cannoned back off the crossbar and five minutes later Bewley turned neatly in the penalty area and he too was denied by the post. Inevitably one started to wonder whether Pont would rue those missed opportunities or bad luck and with twenty minutes remaining this turned into reality. Ford played a weak clearance into the path of Andrew Murray whose strong shot took a wicked deflection and looped over Bowey-Tyler to give the seasiders some hope. Pont should have restored their lead five minutes later when Ford headed back across goal and found his fellow defensive partner Spencer in front of goal but he didn’t get enough power on his header to force it past Ashurst. It was then Alnmouth’s turn to sense victory but they couldn’t get a clear shot on goal as Pont defended stoically and when they did Spencer was on the line to clear and take the game into extra time.

One or two players on both sides were now starting to struggle with cramp.

In the first period of extra time Havelock-Brown hit the post again and then a melee resulted in the Alnmouth area following a shot by Gardiner but this time it was Alnmouth’s time to defend stoutly as shots rained in. Pont were back in the ascendency and looking the stronger at this stage with creativity coming from McDermott, Gardiner and Havelock-Brown. Gardiner showed his trickery on the ball before pulling the ball back to Cook who saw his shot deflected for a corner, From the corner Ford saw his header blocked on the line and cleared to safety whereas at the other end a corner taken by substitute Andrew Murray was headed wide by Andrew Martin coming in at the back post.

The all important second goal came three minutes from half time in extra time. Jones played a clipped ball over the top for Cook who still had work to do but like in the first half he approached the keeper and shot confidently past him into the net. Gardiner nearly sealed it after some neat footwork to create a shooting opportunity he saw his shot clip the top of the bar and over for the sixth occasion Pont had hit the woodwork in this game.

Into the last 15 minutes of extra time. Cook suffered cramp after gallantly chasing another through ball and was replaced by Davidson. McIvor moved up front with Holden slotting in at left back. To their credit Alnmouth stuck to their task and pushed Pont all the way but tiredness was becoming evident in both teams and scoring would become more difficult. With three minutes to go Alnmouth’s efforts were shattered when Havelock-Brown collected a ball just outside the area and saw his shot deflect off a defender and over the keeper in similar fashion to Alnmouth’s equaliser.

This ended the action and Pont got their hands on the Stelrad NFA Minor Cup for the first time in their history. minutes from half time in extra time. Jones played a clipped ball over the top for Cook who still had work to do but like in the first half he approached the keeper and shot confidently past him into the net. Gardiner nearly sealed it after some neat footwork to create a shooting opportunity he saw his shot clip the top of the bar and over for the sixth occasion Pont had hit the woodwork in this game.

Into the last 15 minutes of extra time. Cook suffered cramp after gallantly chasing another through ball and was replaced by Davidson. McIvor moved up front with Holden slotting in at left back. To their credit Alnmouth stuck to their task and pushed Pont all the way but tiredness was becoming evident in both teams and scoring would become more difficult. With three minutes to go Alnmouth’s efforts were shattered when Havelock-Brown collected a ball just outside the area and saw his shot deflect off a defender and over the keeper in similar fashion to Alnmouth’s equaliser.

This ended the action and Pont got their hands on the Stelrad NFA Minor Cup for the first time in their history.