Cramlington Town 3 Ponteland United 3 Northern Alliance, Nike Division One
This match really was a game of two halves, with both teams wondering in the end how they did not win.
United were slow out of the blocks and in the first half they gave Cramlington far too much space and time on the ball.
The hosts were a goal up after two minutes when Mason found himself unmarked in the area to volley a cross from the right past Stuart Taylor.
Shortly, afterwards a cross from the left found Jefferson free on the right and, thankfully for Pont, he should have done better than hit the side netting.
On the 15-minute mark Town, with Pont in disarray, doubled their lead. Pont were simply not at the races with runners not being tracked, players losing their shape and when they had the ball, they overdid it.
It took United until the 22nd minute to register their first attempt on goal when Zac Bewley released Cook down the right and he cut the ball back to Darwent, who at least brought a save from the keeper without troubling him too much. At the other end, Joe Slade had to make a good block to deny Middleton.
Whether it was the system, indiscipline or another issue, United came out second best throughout the half, with few players coming away with any credit.
The second half started with Pont at least showing more aggression and teamwork. Bewley, who had a very disappointing first half, started to move the ball a bit quicker and earlier.
A neat pass to Mulroy enable him to release L’Argent down the left, however, his cross was just too far ahead and it went out for a goal-kick. Cook then made a penetrating run down the right, but when his cross came in, there was no one to get on the end of it and an opportunity was lost.
On 55 minutes, United had a lifeline from the penalty spot. Bewley took responsibility, but he was casual and sidefooted the ball to the goalkeeper’s left for him to save with his feet.
Three minutes later, a good run down the right and cross by Slade found Cook, whose shot was brilliantly tipped round the post by Marshall in the Cramlington goal.
Despite the penalty miss, United were at least looking positive and they were creating chances, but the game looked dead and buried with 30 minutes remaining when a through-ball found McDonald heading towards goal and he clipped the ball over the outstretched Taylor to make it 3-0.
Pont then made two changes – bringing on Ethan Bewley and Tom Phillips for Dunn and Darwent – and they proved inspiring.
With 15 minutes remaining, Zac Bewley found his younger brother on the right and he in turn played the ball inside to Cook, who gave Pont some hope by firing past Marshall.
Two minutes later, Hibbitt passed to Cook who drove forward before shooting. Fortuitously, the ball took a wicked deflection and looped over Marshall into the net (3-2).
Ethan Bewley had made a difference with his energy, trickery and running power down the right. On 80 minutes, Pont were well and truly back in the game when he chased a ball down the right before rifling the ball past a stunned Marshall into the roof of the net.
Ponteland now looked the likely winners, but their desire to go forward nearly caught them out. Slade had to concede a corner and from the set-piece Hibbitt cleared a header from his own goal-line.
At the other end, good play between Phillips and Cook ended with a corner to Pont and from the corner, Zac Bewley hit his flag-kick against the near post, but the ball was cleared.
Neither side could score a late winner, so it ended 3-3.