Ponteland United 3 Wallington 1 Pin Point Recruitment Combination Cup, Round One
PONTELAND made several changes for the visit of Wallington – two of which were enforced with Jack L’Argent failing a late fitness test and Andrew Davidson suffering from a groin injury.
New signing Gareth Powell played in goal to give the defence more experience.
On a glorious sunny afternoon the conditions were ideal for playing football on the wide open spaces of United’s pitch.
Both teams showed they were keen to play football and keep possession of the ball but neither had any real thrust.
On 10 minutes the tall Paul Ford broke down the right but his cross didn’t reach Craig Cook in support and was saved comfortably by keeper Lees.
The home side were getting some success down the right and on 15 minutes a piledriver from the industrious Rankin was tipped over the bar by Lees.
Ponteland were edging the play although they needed to keep a close watch on Wallington’s front man Jordan Nellis. On 20 minutes, Ford was brought down just outside the penalty area and the free kick by Rae was again tipped over the bar by Lees.
Ford with his pace was causing the visitors some problems and on 22 minutes the striker was brought down again but this time in the penalty area.
Cook stepped up to take the penalty in the absence of the injured Davidson but was denied by Lees diving to his left.
Powell was brought into action as the first half came to a close, saving at the feet of the dangerous Nellis.
There had been no real spark to ignite the game in the first half with Armstrong the pick of the Pont team but Powell giving the defence some confidence and solidity which has been lacking.
Hodgson came on for Rae for the second half and it took only two minutes for Pont to take the lead – albeit somewhat fortuitously.
A glorious inviting cross from Rankin found the head of the incoming Ford.
Lees allowed the goalbound header to slip through his hands.
Five minutes later a route one long clearance by Powell was headed on by Cook to Ford.
He left the defence in his wake only to see his shot hit the foot of the post and clear.
Pont were looking for a second and this duly came on 53 minutes when Cook, after a strong run down the right, crossed to Armstrong who showed complete composure to lay the ball across to Jarvis Smith for a simple strike.
With half an hour remaining, Nellis reminded Pont that the game wasn’t over as he drifted down the left before cutting in to curl a shot beyond the far post.
Armstrong then had an opportunity to put the game beyond doubt when he rose to head Jarvis-Smith’s chip, but the ball went wide of the far upright.
With 25 minutesto go, Wallington brought some urgency into their play.
Sam Walton was the main architect with some threatening runs down the left.
From one run he got beyond Jones to fire across the goal-line, with Bell the covering defender unfortunately steering the ball into his own net.
Shortly afterwards, with Pont sleeping, the visitors took a quick free kick to release Stephen Warwick in a forward position but the centre back lofted the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Then full back Trevor Baston tried his luck running through only to fire past the post without troubling Powell.
At this time United needed another goal and it duly came with 10 minutes remaining.
Cook ended a sound match when he collected another cross from the overlapping Rankin and twisted and turned before firing past Lees to put the game beyond Wallington.