Ponteland United 2 Cramlington Town 1 Northern Alliance, Division One
It’s been a depressing two months for Ponteland, winning only one of their last six matches and it didn’t look any brighter for Saturday’s game against league leaders Cramlington Town, who only a month ago hit five in the corresponding fixture.
The situation was compounded with Hibbitt suspended and Rae, Cook, Malia and Davidson all unavailable.
Local lad Tom Clark made his first start for the team following his recent transfer, teenager Wayne Dunn led the line with the experienced Paul Hodgson, albeit not fully fit, slotting into midfield.
The first opportunity fell to the visitors on 12 minutes but Wyn Fremlyn skied his shot way over the bar.
Not to be outdone, United played some good football down the right when Clark released Anderson. The front man did well but his final shot was well blocked by keeper James Morton.
On 20 minutes, Cramlington had another opportunity when Potts, playing the ball out of defence, misplaced a pass direct to Fremlyn but thankfully his shot was just wide of the upright to Potts’ relief.
After half-an-hour, there was nothing between the two teams, with the energetic Anderson and Dunn linking up well up top for Pont.
At the back, United were taking a few risks but generally were under control and, on four occasions, got a correct offside flag.
Five minutes before half-time, however, it all went wrong when the defence all claimed for offside but, on this occasion, the flag stayed down and Fremlyn, despite looking well offside, ran through to shoot past Bowey-Tyler and open the scoring (0-1).
Pont then lost concentration towards the end of the half and Fremlyn got in a good header which was saved comfortably by Bowey-Tyler.
In the second half, United started brightly and were unlucky not to equalise only three minutes into the half.
Excellent play down the right between Anderson and Peacock ended with Peacock’s cross being hit on the swivel by the lively Dunn but it went over the bar.
The youngster forgot about it and, on 53 minutes, burst through Town’s defence and left them for dead before firing confidently and clinically into the bottom corner (1-1).
With half-an-hour to go, Clark, who was having his best game in a Ponteland shirt, gave the ball away and Fremlyn, not for the first time, wasted the opportunity and shot wide.
Potts was leading the defence by example but was cautioned for an overly-aggressive challenge in the middle of the pitch, which upset the visitors.
United, however, continued to play their football and were certainly still in this game, for they were the ones asking most of the questions.
On 65 minutes, Peacock found space down the right and crossed to the far-post for the leaping Dunn to head the ball downward and goalwards only to see keeper Morton produce a fine, diving save.
With 12 minutes to go, the tireless Anderson controlled the ball neatly before clipping it into the path of Clark running beyond the defence.
The teenager controlled the ball instantly before clipping it over the on-rushing keeper to give United the lead (2-1).
With players tiring, United brought on Parker, Laws and Findley and rode their luck somewhat in the final five minutes when Town’s substitute Danny McDonald was almost through on goal but hit the side-netting and, right at the death, with almost an open goal, the ball was skied high over the bar.
The league leaders would be disappointed and frustrated that they didn’t get anything out of the game but credit must be given to Ponteland for a much-improved and disciplined performance, especially from teenagers Clark and Dunn and the calm heads of Shipley, Jones and Potts.