Ponteland United 3 Shankhouse 1 Kicks Leisure George Dobbins League Cup, Round Two
WITH both regular keepers absent, United brought in Ponteland’s cricketer Stuart Taylor in goal and recalled Paul Jones, Marc Findlay and Jack L’Argent into the starting line-up in Saturday’s League Cup second round tie against Premier Division opponents Shankhouse.
The hosts are in a good run of form and relished the challenge against a strong Shankhouse team who welcomed back Chris Rue.
Shankhouse started well, looking to display their higher divisional status, and had the first real attempt on goal with Paul Dunn testing Taylor from 22 yards but the keeper collected cleanly.
Pont’s Rae was working tirelessly as ever in midfield, linking well with Findlay and Hodgson and, with a neat pass, found Holden on the right.
The nippy forward floated a cross to L’Argent coming in from the left but the promising teenager couldn’t keep his header low enough to test the visitors’ new signing in goal, Daniel Medlin.
In a repeat move but on the opposite side, Rae once again found Holden who on this occasion cut inside for a shooting opportunity but his lob was easily collected by Medlin.
Chances in the opening 20 minutes were few with Rankin for Pont getting a good connection on a volley which whistled by the post and Rae after a neat turn just outside the penalty area shot with his left foot but well wide of the target.
The home side were doing well and on 25 minutes got their noses in front.
Hodgson collected a short corner and swung the ball into the danger zone where Paul Ford just managed to get a touch to steer the ball into the bottom corner of the net with Medlin rooted to the spot (1-0).
As half-time approached, Shankhouse went in search of an equaliser with Rue, Dunn and the impressive Jordan Walsh looking dangerous but they found Pont’s keeper Taylor in inspirational form.
At half-time, Pont made a change, bringing on Cook for Ford. However, Shankhouse stepped up a gear and in the opening period of the half played some good football and gradually pushed the home team deeper towards their 18-yard line.
Despite having the greater possession they didn’t have any clear cut chances and when they did shoot on goal Taylor stood firm.
When it looked as though Ponteland had weathered the storm, with 20 minutes remaining, Shankhouse got a free-kick just outside the area.
Rue’s shot was deflected by the wall for a corner. From the corner, the ball came out to Jordan Walsh and his left foot did the rest, firing low and true into the bottom corner (1-1).
In fairness, a goal had been coming and the expectation was that the visitors would go on to win the game. The Pont lads had other ideas and their response was immediate.
Five minutes later, Pont got a corner and Hodgson’s flag-kick somehow found its way into the goal area with Holden first to react and poke the ball over the line.
This gave United renewed belief and, with the former North Shields player Martin Lamb on as substitute calming things down at the back with his vast experience, the home side could sense victory.
Ten minutes to go and Pont made a quick break, with Rae feeding Anderson down the right who in turn found Cook. The big lad had made a strong run in support but shot early and well over the bar.
At the other end, Armstrong reacted quickly to block a drive but the ball ricocheted off him into the air and fell kindly to Rue, whose goal-bound volley was somehow tipped onto the bar and over by the athletic Taylor.
It was end-to-end stuff, making an exciting finish to the game but, with five minutes remaining, Ponteland scored again from another corner and this time it was full-back Paul Jones forcing the ball over the line among a group of players (3-1).
However, it was custodian Stuart Taylor who stole the headlines and applause from the spectators with another brilliant one-handed save, this time to tip Paul Dunn’s shot, destined for the top corner, over the bar to cap a magnificent afternoon for the local talented sportsman, who’s more notorious for scoring centuries on the adjoining pitch.
With all three keepers available next week, manager Havelock will indeed have a selection problem.