Cullercoats 4 Ponteland United 0 Northern Alliance, Division One
United suffered their heaviest league defeat of the season in this game against a strong Cullercoats team.
With main strikers Bewley, Dunn, Cook and Lockhead all unavailable, scoring goals was always going to be a problem but the situation was compounded with the absence of centre backs Scott and Shipley, which meant that Jones and Slade had to play together for the first time in the centre of defence with teenagers Spencer and Skidmore at full-back.
Pont were being outnumbered at first by the home side but on eight minutes, they showed their ability on the ball with a good move down the left involving Doyle and Skidmore before the overlapping full-back crossed in from the by-line but goalkeeper Moor collected safely with Rae waiting to pounce for any spillage.
However, on 12 minutes, it was all too easy for Cullercoats when they made ground down the right beyond Skidmore.
Slade came across but neither defender was able to usher the ball to safety and the lofted cross was met by Michael Moor running in at the far-post almost unmarked to put the home side in front (1-0).
Three minutes later, the home side struck again. With Pont attacking, they got caught on the break and when Jones uncharacteristically failed to deal with the ball, it left Hylton Laws with a clear run on goal.
His first shot was blocked by Taylor but he rifled his second against the underside of the bar and into the net (2-0).
The visitors were shocked and looked vulnerable for a while but Cullercoats didn‘t really take advantage. A long throw by James Carr to Laws caught Pont unawares but the centre-forward shot from distance and the ball was easily collected by Taylor. At this stage, Cullercoats looked too strong physically for the young Ponteland side, in which too many individuals were having an off-day. Playmakers Doyle and Rae in midfield were working tirelessly to pull the team through the difficult patch, with Bewley upfront also working hard but too often crowded out after getting in good positions.
The home side were being allowed far too much time on the ball. Just as they possibly hoped to get through to half-time, United were caught square with a through-ball played to Laws who went on to plant it past Taylor to effectively seal the game as a contest.
Half-time: Cullercoats 3 Ponteland United 0
The emergence of L’Argent after the break for his first action of the season following a broken wrist was a bonus for Pont and he replaced Skidmore, who had been struggling.
Almost straight away, L’Argent was in the thick of things when he was scythed down by a high and dangerous tackle by James Carr. His introduction gave Pont much-needed solidity at the back and they looked far more comfortable.
They now saw far more of the ball but, without any threat or penetration upfront, never looked likely to get back into the game.
However, the second half was a much better performance from the visitors, who, to their credit, showed some collective spirit and used the ball more effectively.
Holden was brought down by the keeper just outside the area with the keeper being shown a yellow card for his challenge. Bewley smacked a volley from Doyle’s pass over the bar but, apart from that, home keeper Moor had little to do.
Frankly, despite the score line the same could be said of Pont’s keeper Taylor. In the dying minutes, Cullercoats scored again this time from a corner which was headed in at the near-post (4-0).
The scoreline somewhat flattered the home team, but their physical presence and experience particularly in the first 20 minutes was just too much on the day for a Pont side which had to make too many enforced changes.