PONTELAND United hit-man Harry Tulip was in wonderland as he netted a dramatic late winner that clinched the Premier Division title in sensational style on Saturday, writes Jon Tait.
There were just three minutes left on the clock and fingernails were being bitten all around the ground when Tulip struck.
A low cross was whipped in from the right and the number nine got there first to tuck away at the near-post and spark mad scenes of celebration.
It was made all the more remarkable by the fact that United had come back from 2-0 down and a draw would have handed the title to Alnwick Town, who were left devastated by a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Heaton Stannington.
David Atkinson’s low drive in the second minute was followed up by a Gary Day strike in the 20th as United made a disastrous start.
Andrew Davidson lashed in the loose ball when a header was saved just two minutes later and, in the 47th minute, he added a second from the penalty spot after Richard Kent had been brought down.
With the clock ticking down and league officials preparing to make the dash up the A1 with the silverware, Tulip became the hero.
Goals from Heaton Stannington’s Lawrence McKenna, on the half-hour, and Ian Irvine, in the 65th minute, put a huge dent in Alnwick’s title hopes.
When Stephen Hogg pulled one back in the 80th minute, Town were however still on course for the championship – until Tulip broke their hearts.
Ashley Smyth netted a treble in Percy Main Amateur’s thumping 9-0 win over Gateshead Rutherford.
Malcolm Morien opened the scoring in the first minute and the Villagers added three more in the next 10 minutes through Luke Coiffait, Smyth and John Amos.
Luke Shadforth made it five in the 63rd minute and Smyth was on target again in the 71st. Morien grabbed his second in the 83rd and Michael Bowman struck a minute later. Main were awarded a penalty with two minutes to go and Smyth stepped up to tuck in his third.
Former Annan Athletic striker Steve Archibald hit four for Harraby CC in an 8-1 drubbing of a young Walker Central side.
Archibald struck in the 13th, 62nd, 82nd and 90th minutes with Giuseppe Amato, Jordan Cowley, Alan Casey and an own-goal making up the tally. Thirty-nine-year-old Ian Milburn marked his last game for the club in setting up two goals with defence-splitting passes and Grant Kershaw hit the consolation.
Wark look relegated after going down 3-2 at home to Seaton Delaval Amateurs.
Nick Gray is leaving his post as Delaval manager and celebrated with a goal while Steven Grey and Steven Anderson were also on target. Tony Lancaster and Steven Shiel responded for the home side.
Ashington Colliers’ Glen Bolton and Dylan Williamson scored in their 2-1 win over Carlisle City with Mark Graham netting for the Cumbrians.
Whitley Bay A are on the way up from Division One and just hours after lifting the Northumberland FA Minor Cup at Blue Flames – Gavin hat-trick, Dean Porter and Ian Lee scoring in a 3-1 victory over Blyth Isabella – they were 3-1 winners over Morpeth Sporting. Porter hit a double and Sean Jobson added the other.
Berwick United Ultras pulled off a great escape as Craig Heugh’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Gosforth Bohemians that lifted them clear of the relegation zone but Forest Hall were dragged back into the bottom two as they went down 2-0 at third-placed Amble United. Lee Harker and Josh Hay scored for the Seasiders.
Northbank’s John Derkins and Andrew Rogerson scored as they came from behind to beat Division Two basement side Wideopen, who had taken the lead through Charlie Noble.
* The Northern Football Alliance League are seeking to enlarge the present management committee which is involved in all the administration aspects of a Step 7 League in the National League System.
Anyone who is interested in joining the management committee should not have a direct connection with any club that is a member of the league and should contact the league secretary, Derek Booth on 0191 2580236 or 07758 666855.