Ponteland United 2
Willington Quay Saints 3
UNITED made two changes from the side which played so well last week with Powell returning in goal and Scott returning after injury to replace the unlucky Stephen Rae sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Ponteland made an uneasy start with passes going astray and none of the fluency of last weeks performance.
Powell was called into action very early when both central defenders missed headers and he had to dive at the feet to deny centre forward Gallon.
Indvidual mistakes have proved costly to United this season and once again this happened when Armstrong’s back-pass dropped well short of Powell leaving Kane Chirnside to open the scoring with a dink over the advancing keeper with only 15 minutes gone.
United then showed glimpses of their capabilities and levelled the scores on 25 minutes when Holden cut inside from the left and shot past keeper Henderson aided by a deflection.
It was expected that once back on level terms this would settle the Pont lads but it didn’t, with passes continuing to go astray.
Ten minutes before half-time Willington increased their lead when Gallon unchallenged headed a cross from the right over Powell and into the net.
United had chances to equalise before the break when Ford burst down the right to the bye-line but his cross was too near the keeper with Holden unmarked in front of goal waiting for the ball to be pulled back.
Shortly afterwards Holden crossed to Ford who laid it off to Armstrong but his shot on the turn drifted wide of the upright.
Pont suffered another blow when Findlay had to leave the field with an ankle injury causing a reshuffle.
Substitute Anderson played out wide with Rankin moving into midfield.
However, disaster struck almost on half-time when a long free-kick from the left somehow cleared the tall defenders and dropped at the feet of the surprised Glen Gallon leaving him with the simplest of chances to fire past Powell.
The second half saw Ponteland take the game to the visitors and for long periods were encamped in Willington’s half of the field.
However, although they had some shots they rarely threatened the keeper.
Flynn found Ford with a good pass but the tall striker’s drive went wide of the upright.
Then Rankin fired over after receiving the ball following good passing between Armstrong and Anderson.
Even when they did get the ball on target keeper Henderson kept them at bay palming away Ford’s header from Armstrong’s corner. At the other end Powell had to be alert to tip over Chirnside’s pile driver.
As the clock ticked away the visitors could sense their first victory of the season.
A desperate lunge by Scott earned him a booking and Armstrong had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny the lively Ryan Chirnside on the left.
The winger then saw Powell brilliantly save his goal bound attempt.
With five minutes to go United pulled one back to give them a slight chance of something from the game when Rankin belted in Armstrong’s shot to ensure it crossed the line but it was all too late.
The match nearly finished as it started with Powell missing a Flynn back-pass and having to scramble back to clear the ball from his goal line.
Just when manager Havelock has seen two excellent performances both individually and collectively from his team, this match was a set back with probably the worst performance of the season both individually and collectively.
All players will need to improve if they are going to have any chance next week against Premier Division opponents Walker Central in the first round of the NFA Sagecor Senior Benevolent Bowl competition which United won in successive seasons in 2005 and 2006.
The match could depend upon which Ponteland United turns up on the day.