Ponteland United 2 Shankhouse 0 Northern Alliance, Premier Division
PONTELAND put in a solid home display to gain a welcome three points.
Manager Michael Havelock gave a debut to Liam Anderson and a first start to Freddie Anderson for the visit of high-flying Shankhouse, who themselves introduced new signing Daniel Laskey at left-back and re-signed Ponteland local lad Chris Walpole.
Although on the bench, Walpole made an early appearance after only five minutes when James Armstrong unfortunately twisted his knee with no one near him and had to leave the field.
The first half was very even, with perhaps the best chance falling to Walpole, who got goal-side of Rankin but his shot was saved by keeper Blair’s feet.
Both Pont’s debut boys were having fine games and slotting well into the team’s system.
Freddie Anderson on the left showed his dribbling capabilities – drifting effortlessly past three players before firing goalwards – but keeper Debbage palmed the ball away for a corner.
Most of the goalmouth action came in the last five minutes of the half.
A fine ball by Gate fell into the path of John Dunn, who kept the defender at bay before side-footing the ball into the net.
Shankhouse responded well and only steadfast defending by the home rearguard, including players throwing their bodies in the line to block shots, kept them in front at the interval.
The second half was very much the same as the first – with no team taking the ascendency.
The Dunn brothers were linking up well down the right and an excellent cross to Gate was headed towards goal.
Although keeper Debbage dropped the ball, it never crossed the line and he collected it safely.
Shankhouse’s best chances fell to Walpole and a good shot by him on the turn brought an equally good save by Blair and shortly afterwards the same player fired high over the bar when well positioned.
On 65 minutes, the hard-working Liam Anderson created a shooting opportunity and his crisp drive was deflected for a corner.
With 15 minutes to go, new signing Holman replaced the tiring Freddie Anderson and almost immediately he made an impact.
Liam Anderson went down the left and delivered an early ball into the path of Dean Gate, whose volley was well saved by Debbage, but the rebound came to Holman who fired into the net.
Anderson and Dunn, who both had excellent games, then left the field to be replaced by Turner and Suaibu and Pont were able to see the game out.