Ponteland 2-0 Alnwick Town
The miserable run of form in the league continued for Alnwick on their trip to Ponteland on Saturday.
A costly error leading to a goal and a last minute penalty were the difference for the hosts, moving them six points above Alnwick in the Northern Alliance Premier Division.
It was sixth hosting seventh at the start of play and the match began as expected, in a cagey fashion.
Alnwick have lost their previous three matches in the league and Ponteland have themselves picked up just a single point in their last four, and despite the hosts controlling the majority of the possession, both teams cancelled each other out for most of proceedings.
In the early stages, Reece Havelock-Brown’s playmaking efforts for the hosts were being frustrated by the Alnwick defence. His and the game’s first attempt on goal did finally come after 10 minutes when the Ponteland captain was brought down on the edge of the area. He took the free-kick but hit the ball straight at the wall.
Alnwick were forced into continuing to watch Ponteland dominate the ball and the visitors created their only chances of the first half through long balls behind the hosts’ defence into the experienced Scott Maddison.
His first attempt on 13 minutes came after the Ponteland defence failed to clear a long ball forward and with Maddison squeezing his body through the crowd he managed to get his toe onto the ball to steer it goalwards only to be denied by the onrushing James Anderson in the Ponteland net.
His second chance came a few moments later and was much more clear cut. Lee Dundas played the ball forward into Maddison who was left one on one with the keeper. However, after delaying his shot he was caught by the covering Havelock-Brown who slid in to take the ball away from the Alnwick striker.
The final chance of the half came by the way of the hosts. Daniel Hadfield intercepted the ball in the middle of the park leaving the Alnwick defence exposed. He ran forward before moving the ball to his right where Tommy-Lee Bainbridge was waiting. Cutting inside onto his left foot, the forward created space for the shot but the end product went way wide of the target with neither goalkeeper being properly tested before half-time.
The second half came with a more open game than that of the first.
On 58 minutes, Ponteland’s Louis Calvert made a run down the right and finished it with a cross into the box which was met by first half substitute Gary Cook. He took the ball under control with his first touch, hit his right foot strike on target but the effort was well pushed round the post by Alnwick keeper Callum Brooks.
Then it was Alnwick’s turn to attack straight after. Leon Midgley held the ball up on the edge of the Ponteland box. He played the ball to behind him to the moving Tyler Scarth and after twisting and turning, making himself some space, Scarth fired his shot from the right hand side edge of the penalty area but it ended high over the bar.
Then, at last came the opening goal in the 70th minute. Alnwick were the causes of their own downfall as a cheap change over in possession in the middle of the park quickly turned into Ponteland’s Mason Stephenson being one on one inside the penalty area. He opened his body up and placed the ball, right-footed, to Brooks’ left.
The home side then thought they had doubled their lead and put themselves out of sight. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Bainbridge saw his effort denied by ‘keeper Brooks only for the rebound to fall straight at the feet of Stephenson. After he was easily able to place the ball into the back of the net, Stephenson’s goal was disallowed for offside and kept Alnwick in the tie.
It was again more misery for Alnwick, however, after Ponteland were awarded a penalty within stoppage time. Louis Calvert’s mazy run on the left saw him pass two Alnwick defenders towards reaching the edge of the box. He cleverly knocked the ball ahead of himself to chase, beating Lee Dundas to the ball, the latter sliding in late to give the ref no option but to award the decision. Calvert stepped up sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, placing the ball to the keeper’s left and into the net to put the match beyond the reach of Alnwick.
Another tough test for Alnwick’s next fixture. They host Newcastle Chemfica who are currently eighth the league, four points behind Alnwick.