PERCY Main manager Gareth Allen endured a rollercoaster of an afternoon on the opening day of the Northern Alliance premier division season on Saturday.
His team roared into an early two-goal lead against a Stocksfield side who had won 4-0 on their last visit to Purvis Park in March, but in the end found themselves having to settle for a point thanks to Dean Morgan’s speculative leveller with five minutes remaining.
The proverbial game of two halves saw Main dominate the first period to such an extent that they could have been out of sight as the half-time whistle approached, while the visitors, buoyed by a goal deep into first half stoppage time, dominated the second and will be wondering why they did not manage to pick up three points.
Both sides fielded a number of new signings, in the Villagers’ case six on the team sheet, and it was one of those in Morgan, a centre half not normally renowned for his goal scoring prowess, who had returned to the fold during the summer recess and scored a couple of extraordinary goals which would be talked about for some time.
The home faithful were cheered by their side’s opener on the quarter hour mark as Lindsay Collinson’s free kick was spectacularly volleyed home by Morgan on the edge of the area, giving Mark Clark in the visitors goal no chance.
Morgan’s superb strike galvanised the home side, who only two minutes later found themselves two to the good as clever play by Tony Abladey engineered space down the right and he squared low for Kevin Westphal who was left with the simplest of chances to slot home from close range.
The Villagers looked to press their advantage as a delightful through ball from Westphal released David Surrey for a run on goal, but his shot was tipped onto the post by Clark and from the resultant corner Assan Jallow, another home debutant, headed over.
The old adage that the best time to score is just before half-time proved correct as the fourth minute of first half stoppage time saw Stocksfield’s Steven Spence drove in a right wing corner which was fired goalwards by Tom Finnerty only for Rob Rodgerson to acrobatically palm the ball onto the post, but Chris Hall following up bravely bundled the ball home injuring himself in the process.
Following the restart Stocksfield’s highly rated young forward Ben Dibb-Fuller shot just over with the goal at his mercy, but atoned immediately afterwards with his side’s second goal of the afternoon, having been presented with time and space and a glorious chance as the Main defence seemed to stand still.
Things got worse for Percy Main and on the hour Stocksfield found themselves ahead as Collinson was adjudged to have fouled Spence in the area, the assistant referee flagged and Hall made no mistake from the spot, confidently slotting home his side’s second of the afternoon.
With five minutes remaining parity was restored once more as Percy Main scored a goal out of nothing, as Morgan out wide on the left and some 30 yards from goal let fly – whether it was a shot or a cross is open to conjecture, but the ball sailed over the head of the bemused Clark to give the home side a share of the points.
The visitors may still have snatched it in stoppage time as Hall’s shot from outside the area struck the crossbar and Villagers’ substitute made a goal line clearance to preserve a point for his side.
Following Wednesday evening’s game at Amble United, Percy Main travel to Walker Central on Saturday. Kick-off at Monkchester Road is 2.30pm.