Clayton Cup, Group A
Wallington 0 Ponteland United 4, 2-3 on penalties (att 20)
A game which stayed on just about the right side of the blurred line between pre-season friendly and competitive football, and saw Ponteland not only win the match, but also the penalty shootout which followed the final whistle.
To avoid any ties in the final tables of the Clayton Cup's two three-team groups, each match is followed by a penalties, regardless of the final score. As I understand it, Ponteland's three points for winning the match were boosted by a extra point for winning the penalties.
Ponteland next play Prudhoe, the third side in the Group A, on Wednesday, also at Wallington's trim and tidy Oakford Park, which is staging all three group games. Wallington and Prudhoe clash next week.
The Clayton Cup has a long history, and in recent years has been revived as a pre-season competition for a mixture of Saturday and Sunday sides. This year, two groups of three compete to produce the two finalists.
Ponteland play a division lower that Wallington, but won this game surprisingly comfortably. They looked sharper across the pitch, and took their chances well, while Wallington created few clear chances with their possession.
The visitors had the perfect start, scoring from a penalty in the second minute. They doubled their lead by half time, and doubled it again in the second half. For some reason the game was just 40 minutes each half, despite starting a few minutes early and when, even with the penalties and allowing for a cloudy and damp evening, there was easily enough light to play for longer.
Wallington are based in the tiny Northumberland village of Scot's Gap. It's remarkable that such a small place can sustain a football club at all, let alone one playing in the top division of the Northern Alliance.
Oakford Park is a one-sided ground, with the near side railed off and with dugouts. Cars can park pitchside, and players change in a wooden pavilion which has an overhanging roof capable of providing cover. The opposite side, and both ends, are bordered by rolling hills, making it an enjoyable venue to watch a game.