Ponteland United 4 New Fordley 1 Bluefin Sport Bill Gardner Cup, Semi-Final
Having defeated New Fordley convincingly last Saturday in the league, Ponteland must have been confident of reaching the Bill Gardner Cup final but, as we all know, cup games can be different.
With teenager Tom Liddle ineligible United did welcome back Peter Scott at right-back, with Joe Slade moving across to the left.
From the outset Fordley showed their intent competing for every ball and determined not to let their hosts get a grip on the game.
Up front, they had Joe Besford and Martin Douglas who appeared to give them greater striking options than last week.
The all-important opening goal came on 25 minutes when Rae played a ball out wide to Gary Cook. The in-form striker took it in his stride and outpaced his marker before cutting in from the left and side-footed past keeper Frazer Nairn into the far corner of the net (1-0).
The goal had certainly settled Ponteland, with Cook and the Bewley brothers looking menacing and exciting going forward.
On 35 minutes, Pont doubled their lead. Cook skinned the full-back on the right before pulling the ball back into the path of Darwent who unselfishly allowed the ball to run past him and through to Zac Bewley who steadied himself before clipping the ball past a helpless Nairn into the roof of the net (2-0).
Fordley were not going to sit down believing the best form of defence was attack.
A free-kick from the left was slightly misjudged by Walker but Slade came to his aid to head clear for a corner.
From the corner, the ball was played to Besford who shot wide of the target.
On the stroke of half-time, New Fordley’s Pyle played the ball in to Matthew Middleton, who strode forward before firing confidently into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to get his side back into this game (2-1).
Although the goal came at the wrong time for Ponteland they came out with confidence and took the game to Fordley at the start of the second period. Bewley continued to ghost past players with ease with his final ball or shot not quite matching his ball skills.
On 55 minutes, Bewley created another shooting opportunity for himself which Nairn managed to block but the ball rebounded to L’Argent who, with a lot to do, volleyed the ball into the back of the net to restore Pont’s two-goal cushion (3-1).
Hibbitt, who has missed a few games with injury lately and was doubtful for this game, came on to replace Darwent which allowed Bewley freedom to move further forward. With 15 minutes remaining, the tireless Slade found Bewley with a clearance and he in turn played an excellent ball into the path of Cook approaching goal but he poked the ball just over the bar.
By this time, Holden had replaced L’Argent and Havelock-Brown for the hardworking Ethan Bewley.
With three minutes to go, Nairn unexpectedly hit a weak goal-kick straight down the middle to Cook and with no defenders around him he drove in on goal and lifted the ball over the despairing dive of the unfortunate keeper (1-4).
Ponteland now have two cup finals to look forward to and in this competition will play Lindisfarne Custom Planet following their shock 3-0 win over league leaders Percy Main.