Percy Main’s injury crisis reached epidemic proportions on Saturday as no less than ten players were ruled out of what was always going to be a tough game against Carlisle City.
However, those who took to the field for the Villagers gave a decent account of themselves and battled gamely throughout in what was the only Northern Alliance premier division fixture of the afternoon.
Manager Shaun Galbraith shuffled the pack and handed a home debut to Ryan McKee, who was signed during the week, and the youngster repaid the faith shown in him by turning on an assured display in midfield.
David Halliday made his first start of the season in rearguard, while Jason Hamilton, following a substitute appearance against Whitley Bay earlier in the season, stepped up for his home debut, and another new signing Craig Danielson had to be content with a place on the bench.
Carlisle arrived in good spirits having won their last three games including a league and cup double against highly fancied Blyth Town during the preceding two Saturdays.
But they were made to wait until the 76th minute before Darren Addison’s strike finally broke the deadlock against a resolute home defence.
Still smarting from last weekend’s Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Whitley Bay A, Percy Main made the early running and City’s Michael Ballantyne was the busier of the two goalkeepers, having to kick clear from Curtis Miller and McKee, while Ryan Laws sent a free kick just over the crossbar.
On a decidedly autumnal afternoon, Carlisle enjoyed the bulk of the possession throughout the game and moved the ball about well.
Peter Ferris was fouled on the edge of the area but Reece Dobie in the home goal was equal to Dan Greenslade’s free kick, while James Leggett made a vital challenge on Dean Armstrong as The Cumbrian’s threatened.
Working hard in Main’s attack, Hamilton steered Jordan Miller’s left wing cross just wide while Chris Laidlaw latched onto an errant clearance by Ballantyne, but his snap shot from distance was well wide.
Dan Gawith was prominent in much of City’s attacking play as he firstly fired over from the edge of the area and later saw his long range effort competently held by Dobie, while in between David Fisher nodded Daniel Cummersky’s corner just past the post to the relief of the home contingent.
Not long into the second half, Ferris played a diagonal ball into the area for Addison to run onto and his low cross into Gawith was cut out by some determined defending.
Seconds later Gawith’s header from Cummersky’s free kick was palmed away by Dobie.
Main themselves strove forward as Chris Glass and Curtis Miller linked up well down the right to release Chris Laidlaw, but his run and shot directly at the keeper was well saved by Ballantyne.
At the other end, Mark Graham perhaps should have scored having made space for himself only to fire just too high.
Those watching were wondering if the let off might have helped towards gaining a hard earned point for Main, but their hopes were dashed as Carlisle substitute Robert McCartney fed Addison, who fired low into the bottom corner of the net giving Dobie no chance.
This Saturday Percy Main travel to face Killingworth at Westmoor, kick-off 2.30pm.