SEATON Delaval looked to build on their Kicks Leisure Challenge Cup success and maintain a ten-game unbeaten run against league leaders Ponteland United in Saturday’s Northern Alliance premier division encounter.
There where several forced changes due to injuries picked up in Thursday’s cup final against Blyth.
Skipper Andrew Johnson and Michael Robinson both missed out as a result of groin and back injuries and in came Slaughter to the heart of the defence and the experienced Geoff Allison at left back.
Steven Grey also came into the centre of the park with Fitzpatrick unavailable.
Ben Guy started his first game for the club on the right side of a four man midfield.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the hosts when after a minute the in-form Steven Anderson was given a straight red card.
The Delaval striker was involved in an off the ball incident whereby he slapped a Ponteland defender on the back after his shirt was pulled and he was held in the box.
The decision seemed harsh, although his hands were raised, and it was felt by the home contingent that the referee could have dealt with the whole incident by means of a warning to allow for a fair contest between two good footballing sides.
Nevertheless, Delaval rolled their sleeves up and worked hard to press the ball, despite Ponteland’s numerical advantage.
Things got even worse for Delaval when influential midfielder Jordan Fry was substituted after 25 minutes with a foot injury.
Craig Cook was brought on as a lone striker and Howes dropped into an unaccustomed central midfield position.
Ponteland had a strong claim for a penalty when the lively Tulip lifted the ball over the head of Slaughter. A combination of Slaughter and Johnstone were able to intervene and clear to safety amid strong shouts for a spot kick.
The first half petered out with Ponteland having a lot of possession without ever breaching Delaval’s two banks of four.
Delaval came out for the second half determined to take something from the game.
Surprisingly, Ponteland maintained the same formation for the second period and were still unable to create any goalscoring chances.
For Delaval the impressive Grey struck a wicked shot from 30 yards that flew past the upright and Howes was unlucky when he broke down the left flank but was unable to get a shot away with the Ponteland rearguard doing well to snuff out the opportunity.
Ponteland grew increasingly frustrated at their continued possession but lack of creativity in an attempt to get behind the Delaval defence.
On 65 minutes Cook was fouled with his back to goal 25 yards from goal.
Steven Grey showed great composure to hit a wonderful curling free kick that went in off the post.
Delaval introduced Newton and McDonald for Guy and Cook whilst Ponteland appeared shell-shocked by the turnaround.
For the remaining 25 minutes they pressed forward and delivered a number of balls into the Delaval area, but the home side stood firm to claim another valuable and well-deserved three points in terms of the application and attitude shown by all in a red jersey.