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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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Ponteland United tops in eight-goal classic

THIRD bottom Ponteland United showed the killer instinct as they shocked in-form Gateshead Redheugh 1957 in an enthralling end-to-end encounter.

Craig Cook
Craig Cook got the ball rolling with Ponteland’s first goal Photo D491372


United moved nine points clear of the drop zone by edging a hard fought game with their visitors, whose six wins on the bounce prior to the fixture had shot them up to third in the Division One table.

Despite the heavy rainfall during the week, the game was one of only five in all three divisions of the Alliance to get the go-ahead.

It looked like a decision which would haunt the hosts as Gateshead came shooting out of the starting blocks, gaining the lead after just five minutes.

United cheaply lost possession in midfield and, within seconds, were punished as a well-weighted cross found Ryan Davenport with the simple job of tapping home.

Ponteland came back into it, though, and striker Craig Cook passed up a glorious chance of drawing level when he sent an effort on an empty goal over the top from just a few yards out.

Defender Peter Scott came close soon after, his volley after Andrew Davidson’s deflected shot being brilliantly tipped away by the impressive away goalkeeper Kenneth Lawes.

The home side were turning the screw and it was little surprise that they equalised on 15 minutes, Stephen Rae clipping a neat ball to Cook to make amends for his earlier howler by placing his shot past Lawes.

The game started to swing back and forth, Davenport and strike partner Robbie Frame, previously of Heddon, causing the United backline problems.

Goalkeeper Stuart Taylor marked his first game of the season with a brilliant performance throughout, called into action to tip over Kevin Hay’s well struck volley from point blank range.

His opposite number was excelling too, keeping out Rae and then Paul Hodgson to ensure the visitors were still on a level playing field.

Lawes’ heroics allowed Gateshead to regain the lead on 25 minutes,when another sloppy pass was seized on, with the ball being pulled back to Frame who gave Taylor no chance.

Five minutes later, Gatesdhead threatened to run away with it as a long through ball found Frame and he again got in between two defenders to end a flowing movement by finding a way past Taylor.

All was not lost for Ponteland, though, and they gave themselves hope on 38 minutes when Davidson curled in a trademark free kick into the top corner with his trusty left peg, leaving Lawes with no chance.

The teams would have turned around level at 3-3 but Rae’s shot hit the post and bounced away to safety.

Yet it was even just five minutes after the restart, the referee awarding the hosts a penalty as Scott had his shirt pulled as he went to attack Hodgson’s corner.

Davidson stepped up to shoot low past Lawes for his second of the afternoon.

With half an hour to go, a talking point emerged when Taylor brought Alan Pegram to the dirt as the Gateshead man went to round him in the area.

Referee Malcolm Hogarth awarded the spot kick as expected, but the visitors were aggrieved that the card shown was only yellow as the official decreed the Gateshead man was going away from goal and Ponteland had defenders covering.

The away side’s anger only intensified when Pegram’s subsequent effort from 12 yards was kept out by the outstretched legs of Taylor.

The game grew nervy but neither side seemed to want to settle for the draw.

Frame had the best opportunity for Gateshead as he broke clear only for the imposing frame of Taylor to deny him his hat-trick.

But it was Ponteland striker Wright who gained the points for Pont, expertly killing a pass from the right before firing it into the bottom corner with 10 minutes remaining to put his side in the driving seat.

Parity looked on the cards soon after when Pegram was through on goal but the onrushing Taylor did well to reduce the angle to forcePegram to curl his effort wide of the goal.

Let off the hook, Wright made sure of the points in the dying minutes when United’s industrious skipper Rae fired a low ball across goal where it was met by the outstretched boot of the deadly striker.

While both teams played their part in providing a post-Christmas cracker, it was Ponteland who moved up one place in the table and came away with hope of continuing their climb with games in hand over their rivals.