Ponteland United 3 New Fordley 3 Northern Alliance, Division One
THIS fixture was switched to Ponteland because the New Fordley pitch hadn’t been marked out on the Friday and was unlikely to be done before kick-off.
United made four changes to the starting line-up from the side which lost to Gateshead Rutherford in midweek, bringing in Anderson, Dunn, Jones and Powell.
The visitors started the better, forcing two corners in the first couple of minutes.
On three minutes, United gave away a free-kick just outside their penalty area and when the cross came, it wasn’t cleared and Dean Lees hammered the ball into the roof of the net (0-1).
United were living dangerously against a New Fordley side playing some neat, passing football. However, on eight minutes, they equalised from what was the best move of the match, with Connor Powell firing past keeper Ingham after excellent build-up play by Dunn, Anderson and Rae (1-1).
Fordley should have restored their lead two minutes later when the dangerous Isbister was through on goal but he shot narrowly wide.
On 25 minutes, Blair produced a great save to deny Lee Isbister to keep Ponteland in the game. They were looking far from settled with passes going astray.
With Hodgson struggling in midfield with an injury, United at this stage were being overrun.
The frustration was getting to Anderson and he was cautioned for a reckless challenge.
Shortly afterwards, the Fordley manager/substitute was shown a red card for constantly disputing the referee’s decisions.
Seven minutes before half-time, Fordley missed another golden opportunity when a cross from the right was hit wildly over the bar. They paid the price because from the goal-kick, Pont went up the field. Rae played Andrew Davidson in on goal and the midfielder showed composure to dink the ball neatly over the advancing keeper and into the net (2-1).
Ponteland went in at half-time with their noses in front but it could have been far different with Fordley profligate in front of goal.
The second half commenced with Gardiner on for the injured Hodgson and the expectation that Ponteland would go on to win the game comfortably.
It certainly looked that way after 55 minutes when Dunn was played through on goal down the left.
He rounded the keeper but the angle was too tight but he managed to cross to Liam Anderson, who fired home to give United a cushion (3-1).
Then for the second week in succession, it all went horribly wrong.
Anderson was shown a straight red card for throwing an elbow and United were also down to 10 men.
With 20 minutes to go, some casual defending allowed Fordley a way back into the game when Isbister got on the end of a cross from the right (3-2).
Three minutes later, Louis Boddy, looking suspiciously offside, ran onto the end of a free-kick to equalise (3-3).
The game finished without further incident although in the very last minutes, Fordley had a free-kick just outside the box but the wall did its job.
For Ponteland, apart from keeper Blair, nobody came off the field with credit and manager Havelock will need to find a solution to defensive frailties as the team has now conceded nine goals in three games. Thankfully, they are scoring goals at the other end which certainly makes the games exciting for the neutral.