Harraby Catholic Club 3 Ponteland United 1 Northern Alliance, Premier Division
PONTELAND visited third placed Harraby with both clubs needing a win to keep their title chances alive.
They were unchanged from the team which defeated Ashington the previous week with Jonny Redhead not recovering from a knee injury and Sean Willis out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder sustained against Harraby in the drawn game at Ponteland.
Harraby started the stronger and were quicker to the ball than the Pont lads with Mark Boyd and Sergio Royo upfront linking well with Steven Archibald.
From a throw-in on the right, Archibald was quickest to react to a cross from Harraby’s full-back Dan Anderton but he headed wide of the far post.
At the other end, in a similar position also from a throw-in, Tulip played the ball back to Kent but he couldn’t get over his volley sufficiently to keep the ball on target.
Ponteland were looking dangerous going forward but guilty of giving too many unnecessary free-kicks.
From one such free-kick, the ball was played to Royo, who let fly from 23 yards and the ball whistled past the post.
Harraby then had to thank their keeper English for tipping Tulip’s downward header round the upright from Dummett’s excellent cross.
Pont then had a golden opportunity when Anzevui came out of defence with the ball and passed to John Dunn and his instant flick released Kent down the wing.
Kent’s speed took him beyond the defence and goalwards but he elected to shoot when a crossfield pass to the unmarked Dunn and Tulip running in support would and should have yielded a goal.
As it happened, the important first goal was scored by Harraby on 23 minutes.
Havelock had pushed Archibald’s shot round the post for a corner and when the low corner came in, it wasn’t cleared by the Pont defence and the ball fell kindly to Matthew Thompson, who turned in the crowded penalty area and lashed a shot into the net.
Two minutes later, Pont could have been level. John Dunn jinked past two players along the goal-line before pulling the ball back into the path of Tulip some four yards out but a last-ditch block by Wordsworth somehow managed to deflect the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
Dummett’s corner was headed back over their bar by Harraby for another corner as Pont pressed but this was headed over for a goal-kick.
On 33 minutes, Harraby doubled their lead. Gate was adjudged to have fouled Boyd some 24 yards from goal in a dangerous position slightly right of centre.
Boyd hit the free-kick with pin-point accuracy over the wall and into the top corner.
Five minutes before half-time, Pont gave themselves a mountain to climb when a regulation pass from Anzevui to keeper Havelock hit a divot and the ball jumped over his foot and before Havelock could recover Archibald was onto it for a simple tap-in. Although Harraby deserved a lead, the scoreline was somewhat unjust and it was effectively game over.
In the second half, Pont huffed and puffed without creating too many clear-cut chances.
Harraby, having got a big lead, decided to protect rather than search for more goals.
Ten minutes into the second half, Suddick brought Davidson on for Flynn with Dummett returning to his customary full-back position.
With half an hour to go, deadball specialist Davidson lofted a long corner which was headed on to John Dunn on the left and after a bit of trickery, he crossed the ball into the path of Phillips to head home.
Hodgson and McIvor came on with half an hour to go but Pont lost their composure a little as they battled to get something out of the game but the main damage had already been done in the first half and Harraby are no team to surrender a three-goal lead.
They defended stoutly and always had outlet balls to Boyd and Yoyo.
From one break, the excellent Royo cut in from the right and unleashed a left-foot strike, which Havelock did well to palm away and, in the dying minutes, a free-kick by Davidson was spilled by keeper English and Phillips poked the loose ball over the bar from two yards out.
The result and the fact that Alnwick had beaten Percy Main by the only goal meant a flat and subdued away dressing room.
Suddick will now need to pick his players up for their two remaining matches of the season and hope Alnwick drop points in their remaining three games.