United clamber to top of the league

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Murton 3 Ponteland United 4 Northern Alliance, Premier Division

PONTELAND travelled to Murton with manager Suddick making one enforced change from the team which beat Shankhouse last time out with Richard Kent returning to the line up and Sean Willis moving into midfield for absent teenager Marc Findlay.

Willis quickly showed his skill on the ball with a superb pass with the outside of his foot into the path of Kent but the wingman shot high and wide without troubling the keeper.

With 10 minutes on the clock, Glenn Ford at the heart of Pont’s defence uncharacteristically found himself in all kinds of trouble deep in defence and lost the ball, putting his defence under pressure resulting in Hodgson conceding a penalty.

Garside made no mistake, firing to Havelock’s left. One minute later, the league’s basement team were two up when a straight-forward ball down the middle found Gavin Nesbitt racing clear between two central defenders to fire over Havelock and into the roof of the net.

The game was wide open with both attacks looking as though they would score against some weak defending.

It was Ponteland who pulled one back when a cross from Dummett was missed by keeper Vout and dropped to the feet of Dunn. His shot was blocked but Davidson was on hand to volley the loose ball home.

The game was being played at a frenetic pace as both sides considered the best form of defence was attack.

The livewire Dunn escaped the Murton defence and elected to pass across the goal to Wood, running in support, but the pass lacked sufficient pace to reach Wood and was cleared for a corner.

At the other end, a slip by Dummett allowed Karl Garside a shooting opportunity but his weak effort was saved easily by Havelock.

After 30 minutes, Pont suffered another blow when Salter limped off with a groin strain to be replaced by McIvor. He hadn’t really had time to adjust when his weak clearance was intercepted and, when the low cross came in, Ford allowed the ball to slip under his foot to Paul Wintrip, who restored the home team’s two-goal margin.

Ford nearly made amends for his mistake at the other end, hitting the post with a firm strike from a corner.

Ten minutes before half-time, Kent did well down the right before turning inside and dinking a ball to the back post for John Dunn to head into the empty goal.

After a calamitous opening period, Pont were pressing to get back on level terms and this duly occurred after 40 minutes when Kent got on the end of an inviting Davidson cross. The dangerous Kent nearly rounded off a remarkable comeback by Pont in the first half when he burst through on goal but missed his kick completely under pressure from Upperton.

Half-time: Murton 3 Ponteland United 3

After the interval, there was really little change, with both sides confident they could score going forward. Pont were looking the more dangerous but Havelock had to be at his best to tip a shot from Paul Wintrip over the bar. The speed of Dunn and Kent upfront for Pont was causing problems for the home defence and when Kent ran free of the defenders, he was tripped for a penalty.

On this occasion, Vout saved the normally reliable Davidson’s spot-kick to leave the scores all-square. Midfield was getting by-passed as both sides searched for a winner.

With 30 minutes remaining, Pont brought on Tulip in place of Wood to provide even more pace to their attack. Tulip duly obliged with 13 minutes left, racing onto a through-ball before firing left-footed past Vout.

As the minutes ticked away, the home side had an appeal for a penalty turned away by the referee but Tulip’s goal deflated Murton, which would appear to be the story of their season so far.

Ponteland weren’t at their best but they had the strength of character to come back after the calamitous opening period. The day was made even better when Ponteland heard that league leaders Alnwick had dropped two points.