High fives for United

Ponteland United 5 High Howden Social Club 1 Bluefin Sports Bill Gardner Memorial Trophy, Round One

United welcomed lower division opponents High Howden Social Club to the Leisure Centre for this cup tie on Saturday.

Despite Liam Doyle, Rory Spencer and Shaun MacDonald all being injured and Joe Slade ill, United had a strong squad to select from.

United were out of the blocks quickly and took the lead with only five minutes on the clock.

Good play between the Bewley brothers ended with Ethan’s shot being well saved by keeper Craig Jones, but the ball came out to Gary Cook who shot home with his left foot (1-0).

Five minutes later United doubled their lead. A short corner was played by Zac Bewley to Cook, who returned it to the wingman to cross to the back post, where Scott was able to head back across goal for his fellow centre-back Paul Jones to shoot home (2-0).

United were playing some good football and looked dangerous every time they moved forward.

On 15 minutes, Zac Bewley went down the line before crossing into the path of his brother Ethan who had followed in support and with time and space in front of goal gave keeper Jones no chance (3-0).

This was effectively game over and it looked as though United would get a bagful, especially when Ethan Bewley hit the bar shortly afterwards.

United were in full control all over the park and, with Hibbitt being sound at right full-back, L’Argent continuing his improvement following injury early in the season and both Jones and Scott looking secure in the centre of defence, the team looked well balanced and confident.

Hevelock-Brown and Leedham were keeping the ball moving in midfield, creating opportunities for the Bewley brothers and Cook.

The second half didn’t quite match the early periods of the game, with United firmly maintaining control.

Captain Stevie Rae, who couldn’t make the start through work commitments came on 10 minutes into the half and took control of midfield, probing both left and right.

On 65 minutes, he played an exquisite ball into the path of Ethan Bewley, who was through on goal and clipped the ball past Jones and into the net off the foot of the post – a good finish from the confident and improving youngster (4-0).

Not to be outdone, his brother Zac went on a dribble in customary fashion but his shot was deflected by the keeper for a corner.

United brought on substitute keeper Taylor for a run-out in an unfamiliar centre-back role and gave a debut to recent signing Kuczalek.

Although a few eyebrows were raised, Taylor was more than competent and snuffed out a couple of advances by the visitors who to their credit kept working hard.

On 85 minutes, Gary Cook got his second and United’s fifth, he received Zac Bewley’s pass and although his first effort was saved he buried the rebound (5-0).

Three minutes before the end, Chris Marshall hit a consolation goal to give some reward for the visitors, but on the day United were just too good for their lower division opponents and advanced into the next round (5-1).