In a dress rehearsal of the League Cup Final to be played at Craik Park on May 16, Ponteland United inflicted a first away defeat of the season on title-chasing Alnwick Town in the Northern Alliance Bay Plastics Premier Division on the 3G pitch at Ponteland Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Although the hosts were without influential duo Dan Hadfield and Chris Hibbitt through suspension, recent signing Dan Mullen came straight into the starting line-up and the experienced keeper who played for Newcastle United U18s in his younger days turned in a commanding performance, while former Burradon & New Fordley central defender Colin White made his Alnwick Town debut.

The visitors started on the front foot but crucially failed to take their chances in the opening 10 minutes. Luke Duffy's wind-assisted free-kick from half-way was nodded narrowly wide of the near post by Kieran Hogg, striker Ryan Payne was tracked into the box by last defender Sam White before losing possession after a poor touch, and one of Colin White's trademark long throws into the penalty area resulted in a close range effort going wide of Mullen's right-hand post.

The hosts then sparked into life with a slick move down the left involving Sam White, Thomas Southern and Mason Stephenson, with Stephenson's final ball flicked on and headed just wide of the far post by centre forward Myles Candlish.

They came again at pace down the other flank and Candlish's dangerous low cross was dived on and gathered by Matthew Alexander in his first meaningful action since kick-off.

Keeping up the pressure, Candlish controlled James Walker's long ball before feeding Kittisak Spratt who went down in the box under a strong challenge from a defender but his appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Zak Logue.

At the other end, Hogg curled a 20 yard effort over the bar and, soon after, rose highest to meet White's long throw but failed to get his header on target.

On 28 minutes, Hogg's powerful strike from the edge of the box was palmed wide of his right-hand post by Mullen for the visitors' fourth corner of the game but like all the others the resulting delivery was poor and the danger was cleared.

Play continued to switch from end to end in the closing stages of the half with plenty of endeavour on display but no end product and the only save required was a routine one when Walker's 25 yard free-kick was fired straight at Alexander.

The first chance of the second half fell to the hosts on 48 minutes when Candlish's long throw into the box was headed out to Stephenson who fired a first-time 25 yard half-volley narrowly wide of Alexander's right-hand post.

The visitors wasted two more corners before coming closest to breaking the deadlock in the 57th minute through Hogg. Breaking from half-way, he played a neat one-two with Payne before drilling a 35 yard effort against the bar with the rebound nodded back to a grateful Mullen.

Straight down the other end, a long ball over the top wasn't dealt with by a defender putting Candlish clean through on goal but the striker's shot was blocked just inside the box by the advancing Alexander who had anticipated the danger and was off his line quickly.

However, there was nothing Alexander could do to prevent Ponteland taking the lead in the 61st minute. Poor defending allowed centre half Niall Codling the space to pick up a loose ball 20 yards out before curling a sweetly struck effort into the far corner out of the keeper's reach (1-0).

After the goal, there were no clear-cut chances at either end until the 80th minute when first Mullen and then one of his defenders blocked close range efforts in the space of a few seconds.

Mason Stephenson put the icing on the cake with his side's second goal in the 84th minute. A wind-assisted long ball over the top left him in a one-on-one with a defender and the pacy forward got there first just outside the box before skilfully lifting it over the advancing Alexander. It dipped inches under the bar before nestling in the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season in all competitions (2-0).

The hosts were in full control as the clock ticked down with the final chance falling to substitute Harrison Turnbull who saw his 25 yard left-footed strike saved low down at the near post by Alexander.

Every member of Alex Martin's rejuvenated Ponteland squad ran themselves into the ground in one of their best displays of the season, well organised at the back and clinical up front when the opportunities arose, and it's now just a distant memory that his team only managed to collect two points from their first eight home games after winning 3-2 at Alnwick Town on the opening day of the campaign in August.