Ponteland United 5 Walker Central 0 NFA Sagicor Senior Benevolent Bowl
UNITED faced Northern Alliance Premier Division opponents Walker Central in the first round of the NFA Sagicor Senior Benevolent Bowl.
Carter resumed in goal for the absent Powell and there was a first start for Alex Patterson in midfield in the absence of injured Stephen Rae and Marc Findlay.
The black and whites couldn’t have wished for a better start when Paul Ford floated an inviting ball from the left into the path of Patterson.
The midfielder’s header hit the post but he collected the rebound and cut inside the defender before firing past keeper David Watts with only two minutes on the clock.
The Pont lads grew in confidence and sprayed the ball around the pitch.
Their excellent build-up play was creating chances and Cook had a great opportunity when Ford played him through one-on-one with the keeper but the keeper won this particular challenge.
However, the big striker did get a goal after half-an-hour when he stooped at the near-post to head on Ford’s cross from the right.
Anderson was then played through but the keeper got enough on the shot to slow it down and the ball was cleared off the line.
Little was seen of Walker as an attacking force in the first half and they were restricted to shots from distance.
One nearly caught Pont out as it got a deflection but Armstrong’s awareness stopped the danger and cleared for a corner.
From the corner, Carter mistimed his punch and the ball went for another corner.
This time Carter came and collected cleanly.
At the other end, Hodgson received a short corner and forced a fingertip save from Watts.
However, two minutes before half-time, Patterson crowned an excellent first-half display when he played Ford through on goal and the striker raced clear of the defence to finish clinically.
Ponteland were well worth their interval lead with the defence looking solid and the strikers looking as though they could score at every opportunity.
The second half followed in the same path with United dominating proceedings.
Patterson had the ball in the net with a cool finish but unbeknown to him and the defenders, the linesman was flagging for offside.
With half-an-hour remaining manager Havelock gave a debut to Pont cricketer Dan Wright as he replaced Cook.
The debutant looked lively and brought another dimension to Pont’s play.
With 15 minutes to go, defender Jack Bell, with an intelligent run, swept home a Roy Gordon corner and, at the death, Billy Holden, who had also come on as a late substitute, finished the best move of the match.
L’Argent played a ball down the line to Wright and his first-time cross went invitingly across the penalty box.
Armstrong was nearest but dummied to confuse the keeper and a defender and unselfishly allowed the ball to run through to Holden to side-foot into the unguarded goal.
Pont had scored five for the first time this season but more importantly had kept a clean sheet again for the first time.
Despite some changes in personnel, this was another excellent all-round performance both individually and collectively and the team now need to show this type of consistency in the matches ahead.
United are in cup action again on Saturday when they entertain another Premier League team, Shankhouse, in Round Two of the Kicks Leisure George Dobbins League Cup, kick-off 2pm.