Keeper crisis brushed aside in Farm victory

Ponteland United 1 Red House Farm 0 George Dobbins League Cup, Round Two

UNITED had a crisis before Saturday’s game, with regular keeper Liam Blair signing for Ryton and Crawcrook in midweek and the three other keepers on their books all injured.

Their position was only eased when Ryton’s surplus keeper Ralph Starkie offered to sign for them.

With Christian Collins unavailable, Paul Hodgson was recalled after injury to the starting 11 along with Peter Scott. who wasn’t available last week.

United have not had the best of starts to their season, but last week’s cup victory against Alnwick Town Reserves in the first round of the Archers of Blyth George Dobbins League Cup has lifted spirits and they were undaunted about facing higher-division opponents Red House Farm in a second-round tie of the same competition.

There was nothing between the two sides in the early stages with Red House having the majority of possession without causing United too many problems thanks to a well-marshalled defence.

However, on 15 minutes, Ponteland took the lead when Cook released the pacy L’Argent down the left.

The wing-man out-paced Patrick Collins, himself no slouch, before squaring into the box where Cook had made ground to side-foot first time past Kendall-Jameson in the Red House goal (1-0).

Both sides continued to play some good football, with Ponteland allowing Red House to come onto them and attack on the counter.

Chances were limited in the first period with Kendall-Jameson saving low down from Rankin’s drive and Newton-Eddy shooting over the bar after cutting inside down the right.

Ten minutes before half-time, good movement and passing between the probing Hibbitt and Rae in midfield for Pont culminated in Rae hitting a shot on the turn just past the upright and a free-kick by L’Argent from just outside the box was well struck, but straight into the hands of Kendall-Jameson.

United went in at half-time with a deserved lead, but considering they hadn’t kept a clean sheet all season, the game was far from over.

The game continued in the second half as in the first, with United defending deeply to deny the visitors space beyond their defence to exploit.

The plan had worked so far with Starkie making his debut in goal hadn’t really been troubled, but he was instrumental in keeping the defence organised and giving the team encouragement.

Blench was booked for needlessly kicking the ball away and with half-an-hour to go, was replaced by Davidson with L’Argent dropping to full-back to use his pace against the threatening runs of Farm’s main danger Newton-Eddy.

With 20 minutes left, Cook who had battled all afternoon as the lone front-man was replaced by Wright and Skidmore came on for Anderson to inject fresh legs and pace into Ponteland’s attack.

Into the last 15 minutes, Red House created their best chance from an excellent move, but Mark Sheeran was denied by Starkie diving to push his header onto the bar.

The calm custodian then collected a cross under his own bar from the left by Ross Bailey as Farm pushed for an equaliser.

Ponteland added yet another Premier Division scalp to their list of last season’s cup exploits, which puts them through to Round Three.

This was a hard-working gutsy performance from all of the Pont players.