Newcastle University 0 Ponteland United 2 Northern Alliance, Nike Division One
With Ryan Potts unavailable, United brought in Billy Holden to the side which lost narrowly in midweek to Birtley St Joseph’s.
With regulars Peter Scott, Zac Bewley and Paul Jones all out with long-term injuries, the team’s resources are becoming stretched.
Both sides were looking to play good football on the 3G surface at Coach Lane and a good game was in prospect.
The first real opportunity in the opening period fell to the students. A cross from the right into the goal area fell to Tom Espin following Slade’s mis-timed clearance, but his shot brought an instinctive save from an alert Walker, who tipped the ball over the bar for a corner.
At the other end, on 20 minutes, Pont’s Gary Cook was clean through with only keeper Alex Genzel to beat, but the custodian came out on top.
Pont then had the misfortune to lose player-manager Steve Rae. When in control of the ball he was inadvertently kicked by his own player Chris Hibbitt looking to switch the play. Although he hobbled on for a few minutes the frustrated manager had to leave the field and was replaced by Paul Jones, who himself was carrying an injury.
On 35 minutes, Pont won a corner and from Hibbitt’s flag kick Wayne Dunn had a great chance to score with a free header but the ball went well wide of the goal.
Dunn, however, made amends, just before the interval when he raced onto a ball from Gary Cook and flicked the ball over the advancing keeper for a crucial goal (0-1).
Two minutes into the second half Dunn scored again when he raced down the channel to collect a ball from Slade. He outpaced the defenders before coolly side-footing the ball past Genzel and into the net (0-2).
Holden, who had moved into midfield when Rae was injured, worked tirelessly as did his colleagues.
James Goldby had a clear chance to pull one back but his shot was always drifting wide of the target.
The hard working students tried to get back into the game but Ponteland’s back four stood their ground and, when they were breached, Chris Walker in goal, looked solid.
One brilliant save from the dangerous Komodromos kept the two-goal margin in tact.
On 65 minutes, Ethan Bewley came on for the tiring Holden and five minutes later Grant Cambridge replaced Tom Phillips.
With some players playing in unfamiliar roles, Ponteland worked hard for each other and looked more confident as the game progressed.
The minutes ticked away with Pont’s defence marshalled by Jones and Spencer holding their own with the forwards matching the pace and athleticism of the students.
Overall, this was a lively and spirited display by Ponteland to overcome a skilful and hard working University side that has faltered in the last few weeks undoubtedly due to the Easter break when students return home.