Ponteland United 0 Cramlington Town 2 Northern Alliance, Division One
HAVING lost last week to league leaders Wallington, United faced another difficult task against second placed Cramlington Town.
Manager Havelock made two changes, one enforced, bringing in Jack Bell in defence for the absent Peter Scott and Craig Cook upfront for the unfortunate Liam Anderson.
In the opening half-hour there were few chances at either end although Cramlington had the better of the play.
Jordan Watson had a volley that was comfortably saved by Taylor and Stevie Rae just couldn’t quite control Billy Holden’s cross from Pont’s best move and the ball skidded away for a goal-kick as Rae was tackled.
On 30 minutes, Andy Carr got free down the left beyond Bell and slotted the ball past Taylor for what at the time was a deserved lead.
Carr had a similar opportunity a few minutes later but this time pushed his shot wide of the far upright.
Pont had their first real attempt on goal five minutes before half-time when Cook cut in from the left and fired a dipping shot which keeper Ian Fenwick tipped over the bar.
The half ended with Cramlington having a deserved but slim lead with Ponteland struggling for the second week running to get a hold of midfield.
The visitors nearly doubled their lead early in the second half when Jordon Watson hit the bar with a rasping shot and then Paul Joisce tried his luck with another shot which Taylor saved comfortably.
It was apparent that manager Havelock had to do something to change the direction of play.
And he didn’t shirk the responsibility by bringing on Davidson for the strangely-subdued Rankin only five minutes into the second half.
Hodgson fired an ambitious free kick from distance which didn’t trouble Fenwick at all.
Then on 57 minutes Cramlington were awarded a soft free kick themselves just outside the box to the right of centre.
Sean McRoberts curled it over the wall and into the top corner to give Taylor no chance.
With 25 minutes remaining, Wright came on for Cook.
With Davidson spraying passes around the pitch, United looked a different proposition.
Good interplay between Wright and Davidson ended with Rae neatly lobbing the ball over a defender before firing on the volley but his shot went well over the bar.
United increased the pressure but without creating any meaningful chances as Town remained resolute at the back.
Kent replaced Findlay with 15 minutes remaining and collected a good pass from L’Argent who had switched to the right but his shot went wide of the upright.
Despite forcing a few corners at the end it wasn’t to be and Cramlington took all three points in another disappointing afternoon for the Pont lads.
It was a similar performance to the previous week with United second best, not picking up the loose balls.
They will need to pick up their game in next week’s semi-final away at Wallington if they are going to progress in the cup competition.