League title slips further away

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Gateshead Rutherford 1 Ponteland United 1 Northern Alliance League, Premier Division

LEAGUE leaders Ponteland United visited Gateshead Rutherford needing a win to keep championship hopes alive with Alnwick Town breathing down their necks one point behind but with a game in hand.

Rutherford showed from the start that they were up for a scrap and Pont would have to work hard for any victory.

The home team forced a couple of early corners and Davidson cleared off the line for Pont to keep the scores level. A loose ball by Hodgson enabled Rutherford to play Keenan in on goal down the left but he shot over the bar when well positioned.

On 10 minutes, Pont’s captain Ford came out of defence with the ball and played Kent down the line but as the wingman headed towards the penalty area with Dunn and Tulip in support he handled the ball and the opportunity was lost.

Pont’s keeper Havelock saved bravely at the feet of John Dewhurst. Pont looked dangerous on the break with Dunn getting beyond the defence but he just overran the ball when running clear.

Loughlin and Horsfall for Rutherford were unsettling centre-backs Anzevui and Ford and the pace was somewhat frenetic, with Rutherford not allowing the league leaders to settle on the ball.

On 35 minutes, Pont took the lead when John Dunn received the ball from a throw-in, jinked down the goal-line before squaring the ball to Dean Gate, who made no mistake.

The lead failed to settle the visitors as Rutherford continued to press the ball all over the pitch.

With Gate and Hodgson in midfield for Pont struggling to get any time on the ball Dunn and Tulip were having to feed of scraps up front with Clasper and Hindmarch dominating everything in the air.

Two minutes into the second period Rutherford were level. A lack of concentration by Phillips at a throw in allowed Keenan to run behind him to the bye line and provide a simple cross for Robbie Frame to score at the back-post.

A fierce half-volley by Tulip was palmed away by keeper Berrington. At last Pont started to play some football with Anzevui and Dummett linking well before releasing Dunn who beat his full-back but Hindmarch came across and did well to deflect his cross for a corner.

The game remained frantic with no one managing to get any time on the ball. With 20 minutes remaining, manager Suddick made a double change bringing on Turner for the out of form Davidson and Dunn for Kent but the substitutions made no real difference as Rutherford continued to press the ball.

With 10 minutes remaining, as Pont pushed forward, Horsfall had a chance to seal victory when running on to a long free-kick but he lobbed both Havelock and the bar.

Then substitute Andison was through on goal with only Havelock to beat but he shot early and straight into the arms of the grateful keeper.

This was a disappointing result for a Ponteland team which were outfought by Rutherford.

With Alnwick having a comfortable win against Stocksfield, United slipped into second place.

However, they are still in with a shout as the north Northumberland side drew 3-3 at Heaton Stannington on Wednesday to go two points clear with one match to play.