Pont nervously eye the trapdoor

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Ponteland United 1 Heaton Stannington 5 Northern Alliance, Premier Division

PONTELAND United, deep in relegation trouble, faced championship contenders Heaton Stannington at Ponteland Leisure Centre.

Just as they conceded a goal in midweek to a set-piece United did so again when Heaton’s tall centre-back Gary McGarrigal headed the ball unchallenged from a corner kick in the fifth minute.

In the first 15 minutes United were second best but having overcome the shock goal gradually came into the game. Holden had a great opportunity to level the scores when he got beyond the defence, but having rounded the keeper was denied by a last-ditch tackle.

The skilful Jonathan Wright upfront for the visitors picked up a ball on the left and sprayed a brilliant pass into the path of Johnson but his strike partner shot wide.

United’s Ford then headed a Flynn corner towards goal but it was scrambled clear. However, on 25 minutes Pont equalised when Holden steered Flynn’s cross wide of Backhouse to give Pont some hope.

As the half drew to a close a quick free-kick released Rankin playing in a more advanced position and his cross was collected cleanly by Backhouse at the feet of Holden waiting to pounce on any loose ball.

Pont were well in contention at the interval and they fancied their chances of getting something out of the game. Their key opportunity came early in the second half when Flynn stole on the blindside of Wear to meet a cross from the right some 20 yards from goal but his neat half--volley with the outside of his left foot to lob stranded keeper Backhouse unfortunately drifted wide of the goal.

Heaton were then awarded a free-kick for an infringement by Jones and from the resultant free-kick were given a penalty when the ball struck an outstretched arm.

Wright stepped up to take the spot-kick but Blair saved diving to his right. Pont may have thought it could well be their day as they were still in the game with 25 minutes to go but Lee Johnson had other ideas.

On 65 minutes he ran onto a through-ball with the Pont defence playing and appealing for offside but he went on to fire past Blair.

Five minutes later he scored his second tapping in a cross following a break down the right and was on the spot to complete a seven-minute hat-trick when Blair tried to catch Wright’s strong shot and the ball dropped into the path of Johnson.

This inevitably knocked the stuffing out of the Pont lads who for 60 minutes had put up a spirited performance. Heaton completed the rout and went nap when substitute Ben Telford got on the scoresheet in the final minute.

With Gateshead Rutherford beating Stocksfield it means Ponteland can only hope that Walker Central, who have one game in hand and are one point ahead of Pont, slip up in their three-match run-in which on paper looks easier than Ponteland’s as they have to visit Harraby Catholic Club.

The defeat came on the back of a well earned point in a midweek 1-1 draw away to Killingworth Sporting.

On 20 minutes Pont took the lead when a free-kick by Rankin into the box was met on the volley by Ford to give keeper Mordey no chance.

The game was end to end and on 30 minutes a cross by Callaghan for Killi was met on the volley by Carr, but Brown managed to head clear for a corner.

Almost on half-time, the home side was awarded a penalty which was disputed by the Ponteland lads considering there was simply a coming together of two players. Callaghan fired into the net to level the scores.

Both teams had chances in the second half, but neither side could find a winning goal.

• Owing to business commitments, Andrew Pybus will be stepping down as Manager of Ponteland United Reserves at the end of this season. The club is now looking for a new management team to continue the work done by Andrew in what has been the first season of the Reserves in the Tyneside Amateur League.

The club runs 28 teams from Under-7s through to adult level and an appointment now will give time for preparations to take place during the close season. Any person interested in the role should contact club Chairman Alan Birkinshaw on 01661 825540 or email alanbirkinshaw@hotmail.com