After five away defeats in a row since mid-January in the Northern Alliance Bay Plastics Premier Division, Haltwhistle Jubilee recorded a vital win at Ponteland last Wednesday night to pull further clear of the relegation zone.

Ponteland United started as favourites having won seven of their previous ten league games and hadn't failed to score at home since January 13. They fielded a new-look forward line comprising Lutfur Karim and Lewis Suddick who have both played at a higher level.

Suddick, grandson of former Newcastle United legend Alan Suddick who played 144 games for the Magpies under manager Joe Harvey in the 1960's and scored 41 goals, spent a decade with the club's academy before being released in 2016. In recent years he has played for the likes of Whitby Town, Hebburn Town and Whitley Bay.

Haltwhistle dominated the early exchanges without seriously testing experienced Ponteland keeper Dan Mullen. Ben Lawton's speculative first-time 35 yard strike flew well wide and, soon after, James Best and Riley Boertien played a one-two as they broke forward from half-way before feeding Ricky Hayes in plenty of space to the right of the box but he close not to cross and his square ball was wasted.

At the other end, Ponteland's first attempt on goal came on 12 minutes through Suddick who curled in a free-kick from 30 yards that was saved low down at the near post by Thomas Craney.

A second free-kick on the right was taken quickly and knocked square to Chris Hibbitt who had a powerful 20 yard shot blocked in the box.

Mid-way through the half, Haltwhistle winger Greg Irwin delivered a long range free-kick to the back post and central defender Kieran Tubman was forced to head it behind for a corner which ultimately came to nothing.

Play continued to switch from end-to-end with plenty of endeavour and full blooded challenges from both sides, although clear-cut chances were at a premium.

The deadlock was eventually broken by the visitors in the 39th minute after taking advantage of some poor defending by Ponteland who failed to clear the ball away from the edge of their own box. It was worked across to Boertien inside the area on the right and he took a touch before rifling home an angled strike giving Mullen no chance (0-1).

The hosts rallied before the break with Karim twice coming close to scoring. He unleashed a 25 yard effort that flew just over the bar and, after being played in Robbie Kinniburgh, turned his man in the box before firing one low from a tight angle that was blocked by Craney's legs.

James Walker replaced Ponteland winger Kittisak Spratt at the start of the second half and did his best to make an immediate impact, delivering some great crosses from the right flank one of which should have been converted by Mason Stephenson. Unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, the winger somehow prodded it wide of the near post. 

The hosts kept pressing and Suddick's 35 yard free-kick to the back post was met by Tubman who sent a looping header back across goal and over the bar.

At the other end, most of Haltwhistle's attacking threat came down the right. Best's cross was deflected for a corner from which George Harris headed clear Jack Barker's delivery into the six-yard box, and a second pinpoint cross from Barker resulted in a goalmouth scramble but the ball just wouldn't drop for them.

16-year-old Owen Atkinson replaced Lawton on the hour mark and the pacy striker almost scored straight away when he got there first to a cross from the right in a 50-50 challenge with Mullen but poked it narrowly wide of the keeper's left-hand post.

Best and Boertien then combined well with the final ball fed back to Best who cut inside into the box and worked an opening but chose not to shoot as another chance went begging.

The hosts' next opportunity fell to midfielder Sam White who got on the end of a deep cross from Harris but his header lacked power and was easily saved by Craney.

Atkinson came close to doubling his side's lead on 80 minutes when Irwin's long throw from the left was flicked on and the teenager rattled the near post with a close range strike.

To their credit, Ponteland kept pressing for a late equaliser but, apart from Suddick's low drive that was blocked by Craney's legs at the near post, never looked like scoring with crosses either overhit or easily defended.

19-year-old Boertien, who recently returned to the Haltwhistle team after being sidelined with a foot injury, caused problems all night with his pace and direct running in a man-of-the-match display capped by the winning goal.

This was only the visitors' second clean sheet in 13 away games and their first in all competitions since beating Ponteland United 4-0 in the reverse fixture on November 11.

Speaking after the game, Jubilee manager Cameron Bell said: ''Like many teams at the moment we have players carrying knocks and injuries but everyone involved showed heart and desire to get us over the line in a whole-hearted display.

The second half was all about work rate to limit our opponents to very few chances.''