Ponteland United 4 Murton 1 Northern Alliance, Premier Division
AFTER the defeat last week at the hands of Carlisle City, manager Suddick made several changes for the visit of struggling Murton, including a first start for John Dunn since he suffered a knee injury back in October.
Also returning from injury was Paul Hodgson, with Liam McIvor on the bench hoping for an appearance for the first time in 12 months following a cruciate ligament injury.
Pont got off to a flying start with Andrew Davidson lobbing the keeper from 25 yards in the first minute to shock the visitors.
John Dunn, also making his first start after an absence of four months with ankle ligament damage, was looking lively upfront with his well-timed runs and linking well with Dummett and Davidson.
A through-ball by Hodgson, not for the first time, found Dunn racing clear of the defence and his cross was just missed by Willis running in at the far post.
Dunn chased a lost cause into the right corner and emerged with the ball down the by-line before cutting it back into the path of Wood, whose shot was just tipped wide for a corner.
Despite their lowly league position, Murton were playing with confidence with some neat passing movements in midfield involving Karl Garside and Richard Graham.
They did, however, lack a cutting edge. A weak back-pass from Willis went direct to Paul Wintrip but his pulled shot went wide with only Havelock to beat.
Wintrip then had to leave the field and was replaced by Gavin Nesbit. The substitute almost made an immediate impact striding clear of the defence but his shot lacked any power to beat Havelock.
Murton was getting back into the game and after 35 minutes obtained a deserved equaliser.
They played a short corner on the left and when the cross came in Nesbit was waiting at the back-post to head down and into goal.
With half-time approaching, Pont were unlucky with two opportunities.
First Wood released Dunn, galloping clear of the defence but his left-foot shot just drifted past the upright.
Then an incisive break down the left came when Dunn flicked the ball into the path of Davidson and his immaculate early cross was met on the volley by Willis but somehow keeper Vout kept it out with a brilliant save at point-blank range.
At half-time, it was 1-1, with Murton looking far from being a bottom-two side.
Murton started promisingly in the second half with Nesbit again being the main danger man but Salter blocked his drive for a corner.
On 60 minutes, Pont increased their lead when Davidson curled a free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top unmarked area of the goal for his second of the game.
From then on, Pont was in the ascendency with every player looking for the ball and making effective runs off the ball.
Marc Findlay, having a sound display in midfield, won a tackle and quickly released Willis down the centre and through on goal but his intelligent lob over the keeper went well wide.
Murton’s attacks were now spasmodic but Dummett had to be alert to head clear a free-kick by the skilful Garside.
On 65 minutes, Pont went further ahead when Dunn finished coolly from Wood’s neat through-ball.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Pont got a fourth.
Findlay found Redhead on the right and his quick ball released substitute Tulip speeding down the wing before reversing a pass into the path of Willis who carried on the move before slipping the ball past the keeper.
McIvor then came on for the last 10 minutes and his first touch almost brought a goal when his header played Tulip in on goal and the striker was unlucky to see his shot hit the base of the post and bounce to safety.