Ponteland shake off rustiness to brush aside league leaders

Bedlington Terriers Res 1 Ponteland United 4 Northern Alliance, Division One

PONTELAND quickly overcame the rustiness as they recorded a comfortable victory ‘away’ to Bedlington Reserves.

They returned to action after a six-week absence owing to waterlogged grounds and Saturday’s game only went ahead because opponents Bedlington Terriers Reserves were willing to switch the fixture to Ponteland as their home pitch at Action Park Dudley was still waterlogged.

United were a bit rusty to start with, as passes were rushed and misplaced, whereas the visitors and current division leaders, despite similar inactivity, played with confidence and composure – with front men Scott Westaway and Dylan Williamson looking particularly dangerous.

It took a great challenge from Jack Bell to deny the fleet-footed Williamson as he sped for goal.

On 12 minutes, Williamson was clean through on goal and it took a brilliant save from Taylor to prevent the Terriers from taking the lead.

Pont came back into the match and had their first shot on goal after 15 minutes, albeit from distance by Billy Holden. Five minutes later, Dan Wright made a strong run down the left but his inviting cross just evaded the outstretched leg of the on-rushing Holden as he came sliding in with the goal beckoning.

On the half-hour mark, Rankin was brought down just outside the area and Hodgson’s pin-point free-kick was headed in by Wright.

The lead lasted only five minutes though and it was no surprise that it was Williamson who did the damage.

The gifted forward ran between the Pont defenders with his co-striker Westaway and shot on the turn past Taylor, with the Pont defence appealing for offside upon seeing the assistant’s flag fully raised.

The referee had already signalled for a goal though and after a discussion with the linesmen remained unmoved and awarded the goal.

This appeared to spur on Ponteland and Wright had an opportunity to restore the lead when through on keeper Martin but his shot was saved and the custodian earned his corn shortly afterwards, saving this time from L’Argent.

The first period of the second half became scrappy as tempers and frustration boiled over, with a few yellow cards being issued.

Holden was having a good encounter with defender Robbie Black and the game changed with half-an-hour to go when the pair went to ground and long after the ball had gone, the defender kicked Holden as he was getting up.

The referee had spotted the incident and had no alternative but to dismiss the Terriers’ centre-back. Pont’s manager Havelock then made some changes, bringing on Kent and Davidson for Holden and Rae, and this brought instant rewards.

With Bedlington down to 10 men, Ponteland capitalised on the extra space and Kent used his speed to score a 20-minute hat-trick.

The first came on 65 minutes when he finished clinically after a surging forward dribble, then 10 minutes later he pounced onto Davidson’s excellent through-ball and left everyone in his wake as he sped towards goal and confidently fired past Martin.

Bedlington suffered further when they had to withdraw Williamson to a hamstring problem and finally, with five minutes remaining, Wright made another strong run, this time down the right and squared the ball into the path of Kent, following up in support.

He fired first time into the roof of the net, giving Martin no chance.

Anderson had a glorious opportunity to extend the lead at the death and inflict further punishment on Bedlington when clean through on goal, but he miscued his shot on the bobbly surface.