Armstrong strikes late to win it Percy Main

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Percy Main Amateurs got their Northern Alliance first division campaign off to the best possible start with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Newcastle Chemfica.

And the win came through Gareth Armstrong’s 92nd minute strike which capped off a thoroughly entertaining game, despite a gusting wind throughout.

Previous to Armstrong’s stoppage time decider, the game had looked the proverbial game of two halves as Percy Main were much the better side during the opening period and raced into a 2-0 interval lead only to find themselves pegged back by a couple of Chemfica goals only seven minutes after the interval.

The game was preceded by a minute’s applause in memory of Liam Sweeney, with the tribute being led by Barry Sweeney, the match referee and assistant Dylan Sweeney, as the game was dedicated to the tragic victims of the MH17 plane crash.

Following encouraging signs in pre-season, The Main fielded four new signings and each contributed in no small part to their side’s opening day victory.

However, it was a player who was starting his fourth season at the club who was to score his side’s first goal of the 2014-15 campaign.

Ryan Laws, a former Young Player and Player of the Year at the club, had already tested Pete Holland in the Chemfica goal with a free kick from outside the area early on, but on ten minutes Micky Haley played a superb diagonal ball out of defence to the advancing Dan Sneap who was up ended in the area.

At first the referee waived play on, but following consultation with his assistant a penalty was given and Laws stepped up to confidently scored from the spot.

The towering Rob Carr in the centre of the home defence, almost made his presence felt at the attacking end of the field with a header which was acrobatically tipped over by Holland, and another from Redmond Cockburn’s free kick which was just wide of the target.

Percy Main doubled their lead on 28 minutes as Sneap took advantage of slack play in the visitors defence before running on to round the stricken Holland and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Previously, little had been seen of the Chemfica attack, but the second goal seemed to stir them into action, as Richard Bissessur released Garrick Murphy Collins who saw his shot blocked by David Edwards in the Percy Main goal.

Following the half-time interval, there was barely time for those watching to regain their places as McLaughlin was presented with a great chance as an Edwards error allowed the visitors forward to halve the deficit.

And worse was to follow for the home side as minutes later Steven Spence turned smartly in the area and fired home from a right wing cross.

With their tails up, Chemfica almost took the lead on the hour mark as Tommy Bainbridge’s run and cross from the right found McLaughlin and his low shot was inches the wrong side of the upright to the relief of the home contingent.

Both teams were intent on winning the game, Carr headed wide from a Laws corner and substitute Gareth Armstrong, on for Chris Laidlaw, drilled across the face of goal for the home side, while at the other end, McLaughlin twisted and turned in the area and saw his shot scrambled for a corner by the legs of Edwards.

Late action saw Laws volley into the hands of Holland from Rob Watson’s right wing centre.

But the game was dramatically won in stoppage time as Watson squared for Armstrong in a crowded penalty area who made space for himself and fired home the late winner.

Percy Main are next at home against Cullercoats on Wednesday, August 20, and Bedlington Terriers Res on Saturday, August 23.