Rudderless Pont steer winning course

Ponteland's Paul Hodgson on the ball in Saturday's match against Murton. Picture by Keith Robertson.
Ponteland's Paul Hodgson on the ball in Saturday's match against Murton. Picture by Keith Robertson.

Ponteland United 2 Murton 1 Northern Alliance, Premier Division

MANAGERLESS Ponteland secured an important three points at home to Murton on Saturday.

The reserve team management of Michael Havelock and Colin Bell were in charge of the first team for this encounter following the departure last week of Jarrod Suddick and Steve Baxter.

They were able to welcome back Paul Hodgson, Dean Gate, Dan Dunn and Harry Tulip into the squad, but also gave debuts to 16-year-old Liam Blair and birthday boy 17-year-old Matthew Turner.

On a hot afternoon, the home side started well and played the ball about nicely in parts. After only eight minutes Tulip was through on goal but hit his shot past the upright with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Two minutes later, Paul Jones had a clear header from a corner but didn’t hit the target.

Despite the good start Pont were somewhat fortunate when Karl Garside ran onto a short pass and as he went round the keeper looked to have been brought down by the young debutant.

Neither the referee nor his assistant saw any contact and allowed play to continue to the dismay of the Murton bench.

Tulip was looking dangerous with his pace and from a good move down the right pulled the ball back into the path of John Dunn but he just couldn’t quite connect to slide the ball home.

The visitors then had their best spell of the game for ten minutes and their pressure brought several corners with Ponteland also guilty of conceding too many free-kicks around the box.

Fortunately, dead-ball specialist Garside didn’t trouble Blair in goal.

On the half hour mark Ponteland scored from the best move of the game so far. Dunn played a ball to the overlapping Rankin whose cross was just ahead of Tulip, but it found Turner in the box.

He tried to get a shot away but swivelled to get to the by-line before pulling the ball back into the path of Tulip who fired home unerringly.

Shortly afterwards Tulip should have scored a second when he cut inside from the right but shot wide with his favoured left foot. Rankin was then booked for a dangerous tackle but Garside’s shot was headed behind for a corner by Flynn.

The early part of the second half saw Murton having greater possession of the ball and Paul Wintrip brought an excellent save from Blair diving to his right to tip the rising shot round the post.

After chances came and went on both sides, Garside found himself free down the right on 70 minutes and went round Blair before squeezing the ball home from a tight angle to equalise.

But two minutes later, Max Turner found some energy to outpace his opposing full-back to collect Huart’s excellent pass and run 30 yards before firing left footed past the outcoming keeper Vout to restore Pont’s lead.

For the final 15 minutes Suiabu and Dunn came on for the injured Tulip and tiring Huart. Garside kept plugging away and he went on a terrific individual run, but thankfully for Pont shot wide of the target.

Suiabu then had a chance to make the game safe for Pont when he was through on goal from Gate’s pass but Vout pushed his effort away for a corner.

The game ended with a welcome victory for Ponteland to the delight of the temporary management, who have made it clear they would like to run the team on a permanent basis, and while there are other applicants for the post the win will have done their prospects no harm.