Shankhouse 0 Ponteland United 3 Northern Football Alliance Premier Division
IT’S five months since Ponteland United last won a match and that was when they defeated Shankhouse 2-0 at the Leisure Centre.
In the return fixture on Saturday, United were without captain Chris Flynn, who was on holiday and gave a first start to teenager Jack Bell.
It was the home side who looked the most threatening in the first 15 minutes. Keeper Bertram misjudged a long corner from Grahamslaw but Anthony Moran, coming in at the back-post, headed wide.
With the wind behind them, Shankhouse had a few early corners but the Ponteland defence held firm.
United did look dangerous on the break. A long goal-kick was controlled by Holden, who laid it off quickly to Wood, who played it first time down the line for Robinson.
The wingman took it in his stride before whipping it across the penalty-box for the unmarked Anderson to shoot on target but keeper Debbage saved with his feet.
At the other end, Paul Armstrong found himself in a good shooting position but blazed over the bar.
Rankin was booked for petulance and from the resulting free-kick Bertram did well to tip a downward header from Moran over the bar.
Bertram was again in action, tipping a drive from Daniel Chambers wide of his far post.
In between times, Ponteland had two great chances from corners when first Rankin misdirected his effort wide of goal and then centre-back Paul Jones couldn’t quite get enough power on a shot and the ball was cleared by Shankhouse after a goalmouth scramble.
On 38 minutes, Ponteland got the breakthrough. Dunn’s persistence won the ball in midfield and played the ball through to Holden.
The speedy forward went by keeper Debbage before being wiped out for a clear penalty. The keeper was booked for his desperate action and suffered further when Wood stepped up to stroke the ball calmly into the bottom corner.
Ponteland went in at half-time with their noses in front.
United started the second half in confident mood, taking the game to Shankhouse with the home side having to clear two efforts off the line from Dan Dunn and Liam Anderson.
Having failed to take those opportunities, United had to thank Bertram when he saved brilliantly to deny Lee Gustard who was through on goal following an excellent defence-splitting pass by Grahamslaw.
With half-an-hour remaining, Grahamslaw went in somewhat rashly with feet raised on Stephenson and received a straight red.
United then capitalised on the extra man and visibly began to grow in confidence with more freedom to play.
Robinson broke quickly down the right and, although he slightly overhit his cross, Anderson retrieved the ball and played it back to Stephenson, whose right-foot shot was tipped over the bar.
With 20 minutes remaining, Pont doubled their lead when centre-back Jones up for a free-kick back-heeled the ball into the path of Robinson and the teenager rifled a shot into the top corner, giving Debbage no chance.
Three minutes later, Pont got a third when Robinson drove a corner into the danger zone.
The ball was headed clear but Holden was first to react and his overhead kick went over the keeper and the Shankhouse defence to nestle in the far corner of the net.
United made three substitutions and comfortably saw the game out for a deserved win.