FEW teams have enjoyed a better start to 2020 than Ponteland United. But their impressive run of seven wins in nine games came to an end on Saturday.

They went down 4-1 against AFC New Fordley, who leapfrogged the black and whites into third place in Northern Alliance Premier Division.

United had to make changes due to injuries to goalkeeper James Anderson, and centre back Stephen Little, with new signing Cameron Armstrong handed the gloves for his debut, and John Pendlebury starting in defence.

The match started in very blustery conditions on a bobbly pitch. Pendlebury was in the action early on and gave away a free kick to the left hand side of the penalty area. A firm shot was heading for the bottom corner but Armstrong reacted well to push it out for a corner.

Henry Rawlinson did well down the left with the wind in his face, and his cross was cleared but only out to Dean Gallagher, who fired over the crossbar.

From another Fordley free kick, Alex Patterson’s delivery was headed wide. Armstrong then dived to tip a fierce drive one handed over the bar.

But on 10 minutes, a corner from the right was floated high to the far post where it was met by an unmarked Liam Hudson, who headed it back across goal to unmarked central defender Chris Jewels, to powerfully head home to give Fordley the lead.

Pont then had a couple of good chances as they looked to get back into the game. Gallagher did well down the right before crossing into the box for Louis Calvert who couldn’t quite connect.

Full back Harrison Turnbull played a neat ball down the line to Rawlinson who crossed into the path of the supporting Gary Cook, but his outstretched foot sent the ball over the bar.

Pont gave away more free kicks but Fordley opted not to take advantage of their tall forwards, shooting from 35 yards, and then 40 yards, to no avail.

With half time approaching, a miss-placed pass by Ponteland’s Shaun Kirkup landed at the feet of Dan Lowther. He advanced down the left towards the penalty area, and stroked the ball into the far corner to make it 2-0 at the interval.

Pont made a change at half time, with Ethan Bewley replacing the injured Rawlinson. However, it was Fordley who took the ascendency from another free kick. United were unable to deal with a lofted ball towards the far post and Jewels managed to score his second goal of the match from a narrow angle.

The goal was a devastating blow for Pont and, perhaps understandably, the mindset changed having conceded two quick goals either side of half time.

On the hour mark, however, they engineered a lifeline. Kirkup played a superb cross field ball over the full back’s head and into the path of skipper Reece Havelock-Brown. The captain took it in his stride and slid the ball past keeper Liam Dodds.

However the goal didn’t produce any real change, and Pont were unable to take control away from the home team.

With 15 minutes remaining, substitute Scott Pocklington finished off a good move to earn a convincing win for the hosts and keep their title challenge intact.

As for United, the good run of results came to an end and they must pick themselves up for Saturday, when they visit league leaders Newcastle Blue Star.

The Star along with other title contenders, Blyth Town, New Fordley and last season’s champions AFC Killingworth, are only half way through their league fixtures due to recent postponements.

Ponteland are fourth but realistically are out of the title running.