Ponteland United 0 North Shields Athletic 5 Northern Alliance, Division One
United entertained North Shields Athletic, who are enjoying a good run of form, having not been beaten in the league since November 30, and pushing for promotion in successive seasons.
With keeper Bowey-Tyler on holiday and centre-back Paul Jones unavailable, Liam Blair returned in goal with Josh Peacock replacing Jones.
Kevin Fairley also came into the starting line-up for the injured Chris Hibbitt.
United have lost their way a little in the last couple of games and needed to bounce back against today’s visitors.
After eight minutes, United went behind when Scott Jasper latched onto a through-ball down the left and neatly clipped the ball over the advancing Blair into the unguarded net.
It got worse for Pont four minutes later when indecision between Rankin and Blair, as they left the ball for each other at the edge of the penalty area, ended with Ryan Bailey surprisingly having the ball at his feet for another simple tap-in.
United were at sixes and sevens, with Shields enjoying the wide-open spaces on Pont’s large pitch.
It took Ponteland 25 minutes to muster their first shot on goal when Cook collected Davidson’s pass but the centre-forward’s shot, although on target, lacked power to trouble keeper Korsbo.
United have been finding scoring difficult in recent games and today was no exception.
Main danger Dan Wright was played in towards goal by Cook five minutes before half-time and unleashed a stunning shot from 22 yards which Korsbo managed to tip onto the underside of the crossbar and the ball bounced down and clear.
On the verge of half-time, Peacock was adjudged to have tripped Wyres in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot to the surprise of several players.
Experienced Anthony Keith stepped up to give Blair no chance and give his side a comfortable lead at the interval.
In the second half, United did improve but were no match for the confident Athletic team.
On 55 minutes, Pont had their best chance of the game when Davidson’s cross from the left was just headed wide by Fairley but you could never see them getting back into this game as the visitors were dominant throughout.
Shipley came on for Davidson and tightened up the centre of the defence with Peacock moving to right-back, allowing Rankin to provide greater energy and presence in midfield.
However, with 15 minutes remaining, substitute Scott Evans came on for Athletic and, probably with his first kick of the match, shot through a crowd of players and underneath the unsighted Blair to make it four.
Then, with 10 minutes left, fellow substitute Anthony Skipsey finished perhaps the best move of the match to inflict further punishment on the disheartened Pont lads and lift Athletic into third position in the league and make them strong promotion contenders.
As for United, they tried hard but are playing without confidence and leadership at the moment.
Rae, as ever, worked tirelessly in midfield, Potts was unlucky to be on the end of such a heavy defeat and Wright had to create his own opportunities up-top.
Having missed the last three matches coaching in South Africa, manager Havelock was shocked to see how off the pace the squad has become and will be looking for an improvement in the remaining seven games.