Ponteland United 1 Gateshead Rutherford 3 Northern Alliance, Premier Division
PONTELAND United, in a barren run with no wins in their last eight games and only one draw, entertained fellow strugglers Gateshead Rutherford in a crucial six-pointer, with 12 games remaining.
United were without midfielder Dan Dunn, with teenager Matty Robinson retaining his place.
On a soft and lumpy pitch, it was the visitors who looked the strongest in a goalless first-half, although Ponteland perhaps had the better chances.
Brown played a good ball to Chris Flynn, playing upfront to give United some added strength, and his shot on the turn was deflected for a corner.
From Gordon’s kick to the back-post, Ford got up well but his header struck a defender on the back of his head and away for another corner, which came to nothing.
On 20 minutes, Rutherford had a corner and it was cleared to Joe Hindmarch, whose fierce shot was blocked by Rankin with the visitors appealing for a penalty.
With the first-half coming to a close, the lively Holden got free down the right for Ponteland when he was brought down outside the penalty area, with Flynn and Robinson up in support.
The half ended all square with the game looking as though it could go either way, although Rutherford were looking the stronger.
Only five minutes into the second-half, Ponteland shot themselves in the foot when slack defending allowed Taylor through on goal.
He went past keeper Blair but caught his outstretched hand for a penalty.
This was duly converted by Todhunter, who fired low to the keeper’s right (0-1).
Five minutes later, a back pass by Ford fell well short of Blair, leaving Taylor with a straightforward chance of slipping the ball past the unfortunate keeper (0-2).
United were now up against it with the visitors clearly in the ascendancy.
Nevertheless, the home side battled away without really creating any clear-cut chances.
Their slim chances improved when Linton Smith received a second yellow card for abusive language.
Wood replaced McGorie and, with 10 minutes to go, Flynn gave Ponteland a lifeline when he poked the ball home from close range.
However, the two-goal margin was quickly restored when, two minutes later, Andy Reay somehow managed to swivel past two defenders on the by-line before pulling the ball back into the path of Ross Taylor, who gleefully fired home.
United, along with Murton, are now cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier Division table with both teams facing the threat of relegation.