BIRTLEY TOWN 2-1 PONTELAND UNITED
HOOPS EDGE COMPETITIVE BATTLE
Last night saw the league fixture between Birtley Town and Ponteland United at The Town Ground; a fixture that has featured some fiercely competitive games over the years.
This particular meeting was originally pencilled in for a 6:15pm kick off time but was put back a further forty-five minutes to allow our visitors extra time to travel.
Making their league debuts for Birtley were the trio of central defender John Gibbons and midfielders Ricky Fenwick and Nick Hay, the latter being the younger brother of current Birtley player, Simon whilst Dan Irving captained the side in the continued absence of James Allsopp who took his place in the dugout alongside the backroom staff and subs.
A very competitive game which Birtley made the brighter starts taking the lead in the 27th minute through recent central defensive signing John Gibbons. A Birtley free kick on half way was swung to the back post by Ricky Fenwick where any one of a trio of Birtley players could have got their head to, with full back Simon Hay reacting quickest to head across the 6-yard box for Gibba to put into the bottom corner of the Ponteland net.
Andy Hall, wearing the number nine shirt made it 2-0 to Birtley in first half injury time when he rolled the ball into an empty net despite the best efforts of Ponteland defender Rory Spencer. No video footage of this one as some silly person decided to ring me for a chat assuming it was half time but I did get several blurry-ish photos of it if that's any good?
| HALF TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 2-0 PONTELAND UNITED |
During the interval, it was necessary to make a substitution as Nick Hay, another debutant who had pulled up with cramp in the first half was unable to continue and was replaced by striker Matty Baldwin
In the 50th minute, the first yellow card of the evening was shown to Ponteland Captain Zackary Bewley for a foul and then just after the hour mark, a yellow card a-piece for Birtley striker Matty Baldwin and Ponteland defender Rory Spencer for an alleged off-the-ball incident that neither I, the referee nor the linesman saw. It became known later on that both cards had been shown for dissent.
A chance for to kill the game off for Birtley in the 74th minute fell to Ricky Fenwick; his fierce strike from the edge of the box was hit straight at the keeper who had little choice but to parry it over the crossbar for a corner which came to nothing.
Ten minutes later, Ponteland had pulled a goal back when Zackary Bewley danced through the Birtley midfield and after finding himself in space in the middle, he slotted the ball through to substitute Andrew Carr who hit the ball through the hands of Jordan Bolton in the Birtley goal who was probably distracted by an attempted last-ditch tackle from Si Hay.
Redemption came after an excellent save with three minutes of normal time remaining from Jordan Bolton denied the visiting #9 Paul Haxon an equaliser and less than thirty seconds later, a 50-50 ball contested between Matty Baldwin and Ponteland full back Branndon Fearns-Kennedy saw the Ponteland man left in a heap and requiring treatment after the incident with the away team pleading for the Birtley player, who had been shown an earlier yellow card to be shown a red card for what was described as a two-footed, over the top of the ball challenge by the Ponteland #9.
In my opinion, and that of the referee, which is most important, the ball was definitely there to be won after a poor first touch from the Pont man and was nowhere near as bad as many had suggested it to be.
The same Ponteland player was again involved in the third of eight eventual stoppage time minutes when a break forward by Simon Hay down the right-hand side resulted in a foul being given against the full back who berated the linesman that he had taken the ball and not the man. The referee didn't agree with that one either and awarded Birtley a free kick. Five more minutes of nerve-wracking stoppage time were played before the relief of the full time whistle saw Birtley take all three points.
| FULL TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 2-1 PONTELAND UNITED |
A big thank you to our two mascots for the game, brothers William and Matty Robson. William plays for our U9's whilst Matty, who I watched score a first half hat-trick in a friendly before coming down to the game, plays for our U7 side. Hope you both enjoyed the experience.
A hard fought win in a very competitive fixture between the two sides which we'll have to do all over again in just over a weeks time when we meet each other in the first round of the George Dobbins League Cup. In the league, however, our next fixture is on Saturday when we face last season's runners up Grainger Park FC at the Langdale Centre, Wallsend. Kick off is at 2:30pm and the postcode for those wishing to come along and support the team is NE28 0HG