Knockout blow for holders in round one

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Wooler 4

Ponteland United 2 (aet)

Combination Cup, Round 1

United travelled to Wooler for the second time in a fortnight as they start the defence of the Bay Plastics Combination Cup.

A fortnight ago, the two teams played a highly competitive game in the league and shared the spoils 2-2.

The cup holders were quick out of the blocks with Collins linking well with Rae in midfield before the latter had a shot in the first minute tipped over the bar by James Thorpe.

The Pont lads kept up the pressure and had a great chance to open the scoring when Rankin played a ball across the goal area, but Davidson didn’t get enough on his right-foot shot.

Rae and Collins continued to control the midfield and set up attacks through Davidson and Rankin on the wings.

Five minutes before half-time, Rankin played the lively Anderson in on goal, but his fierce drive drifted wide of the upright, with Cook crying out for the ball to be squared for him in front of goal.

The first half was Pont’s best performance of the season.

Wooler having had a pep talk at half-time and being thankful to be still in the game pressed from the off.

The second half was much more even, with Wooler recognising they still had a chance and Ponteland wondering what might have been.

With 20 minutes remaining, the excitement intensified.

Pont didn’t track a runner and the ball fell kindly to Stuart Bertram, who shot home to the delight of the home support.

Teenager Skidmore was brought on for Rankin and the switch paid dividends with 10 minutes remaining.

A long crossfield pass from Gordon found Skidmore on the right. He controlled well and cut inside before unleashing a shot from 22 yards which flew into the far corner to give the holders some hope.

With five minutes to go, Pont failed to deal with a ball down the left and Kevin Bell took full advantage to fire Wooler back in front.

The minutes ticked away and in one last effort, keeper Blair came up for a corner with all Pont players in the penalty area. Rae’s flag kick was met by the towering head of Scott and the ball flew into the top corner to force extra-time.

Both teams had put in a tremendous effort in those 90 minutes and not surprisingly energy levels and concentration dropped in the extra period.

Blair pulled off a great one-on-one save, but could do nothing to prevent Wooler getting their noses in front 10 minutes into extra-time. Fraser Tait’s run wasn’t checked on a corner and the substitute had a clear head on goal.

When Wooler scored five minutes into the second period of extra-time with a well-taken Forrest goal, any hopes Ponteland had of retaining the cup evaporated.