Pont regret missed chances again

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Ponteland United 2 Hexham 3 Northern Alliance, Division One

ONCE again United were made to rue early missed chances as they fell to a home midweek defeat.

Ponteland made two changes from the side which played so well in the first half at Heddon, with Craig Cook coming in for Jarvis Smith and Paul Hodgson for Michael Rankin. Andrew Davidson remained sidelined with his troublesome back.

Pont should have gone ahead after only five minutes when Holden, after a tidy build-up, showed composure in the penalty area to beat two defenders. But from just eight yards out and only the keeper to beat, he shot straight at him.

United created further opportunities with Hodgson shooting over the bar and Anderson firing wide from a Hodgson corner. For 15 to 20 minutes, it was mostly Ponteland doing the pressing – passing the ball well from back to front.

Hexham then came more into the game, showing themselves to be dangerous on the break. Peter Scott had to do a great block tackle on Liam Heenan and then the visitors appealed loudly for a penalty when a cross struck Flynn on the chest but the referee quite rightly waived play on.

North and Heenan for the visitors were causing problems and Flynn had to block another Heenan attempt. The game became very open in the last 15 minutes before half-time and from another flowing Pont move, visiting keeper Carl Robinson managed to tip a Paul Hodgson strike over the bar but nothing came from the corner.

At the other end Matty Blackwith, after a forceful run, had his shot deflected for a corner and the teams surprisingly went in scoreless at the interval.

The first real chance of the second half came to Pont’s Craig Cook, whose shot was punched away by the keeper. However, on 55 minutes Cook collected Stevie Rae’s through-ball and this time the striker side-footed the ball past Robinson. Minutes later Cook nearly got a second – heading Holden’s cross just wide of the upright.

Hexham remained strong and were rewarded on 60 minutes when Heenan somehow managed at the near post to squeeze a cross-shot from the left past Blair.

Two minutes later Pont were back in front when, after good interpassing between Rae and Cook, the ball went out wide to Holden and his cross found Anderson stooping low to head home.

It was now a good match with Hexham determined to stay in touch with substitutes McLaughlin and Tom Phillips looking bright. Indeed on 65 minutes McLaughlin should have scored but he blasted over from close range.

Pont needed another goal to kill the game off and this nearly came with 15 minutes remaining. A break found Holden and the striker played the ball out wide to the overlapping Flynn. His cross was met by Anderson with just the keeper to beat but Robinson spread himself well and cleared with his legs.

This miss proved costly for within seconds the scores were level. A mistimed back-pass by Jones fell short of keeper Blair and the alert Phillips nipped in to slip the ball past Pont’s keeper.

If that was not enough, Ponteland then were up against it when Phillips got a second, this time heading in from a cross from the right following a short corner.

Hexham held on for the 3-2 victory. On Saturday, despite netting another two goals Pont lost 4-2 at Cullercoats.