What a difference a year makes for Percy Main.
Twelve months ago the Villagers started their Northern Alliance premier division campaign in disastrous fashion as they crashed to five straight defeats from their opening five games, a run which ultimately was the catalyst for relegation to the league’s middle tier.
But in direct contrast, Main now sit proudly at the top if the first division having won their first five league games.
The coaching team of Danny Nelson and Dave Addison, overseen by team manager Richard Nugent, can take credit for their organisational skills and team tactics as the bulk of last season’s team along with a few astute summer signings, have shown great team spirit and gelled superbly as a unit, gaining plaudits from supporters and opposition alike.
On Saturday, occupying the visitors dugout was Shaun Galbraith, himself a former team manager at Purvis Park during the early part of lat season, while among the visiting Bedlington team, Chris Glass, Jordan Miller, Jack Taylor and Rob Ridley had worn the claret and blue of Percy Main last season and were all looking to put one over their former side.
Despite their best efforts, the visitors gave their all but were left to mull over Joe Betts’ first goal of the season for Main, a late strike which won the game and ensured the home side repeated the score line which had accounted for Cullercoats during the midweek match some three days prior, when goals from Dan Sneap and Sam Thompson proved the vital counters.
On an afternoon which saw a fair amount of rain, Bedlington asked the early questions as Ryan Cockburn, brother of Main’s Redmond, found himself thwarted by a great challenge in the area by Adam Green, one of the close season acquisitions who has caught the eye, while Mark Race headed the subsequent corner narrowly wide.
Percy Main were soon into their stride and Sam Thompson’s header was cleared from the line, while the presence of imposing defender Rob Carr caused consternation in the visitors defence as the Villagers forced a series of corners.
But the stalemate was not to last and the opening goal arrived just past the 15-minute mark as Ryan Laws’ run and shot was parried by Luke Glasper in the visitors goal, but Sneap handily placed and fired home the loose ball.
Main’s lead was to last only ten minutes as an uncharacteristic slip up in defence allowed Ridley to square to Race close in and the centre forward made no mistake to level matters.
Percy Main had loud penalty appeals turned down as Betts appeared to be brought down by Glasper, with nothing given, while Sneap headed just the wrong side of the post and Thompson saw his low effort dealt with by the diving Glasper, who also did well to tip behind from Carr as the interval beckoned.
Second half action saw Sneap fire across the face of goal and Thompson test Glasper with a shot from distance, while at the other end, the lively Glass fired a warning shot just wide of the mark and Race brought a save from David Edwards in the home goal, with Ant Ridley mopping up the danger.
Glass again went close, with a low shot across the face of goal, while a good chance appeared to go begging at the other end as inside the last ten minutes Laws put Betts in the clear with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Glasper saved with his legs to prevent his side going behind.
With the clock ticking down and the game still anybody’s for the taking, Betts, who had worked tirelessly throughout, gained his just rewards and atoned for his earlier miss as Ant Ridley played a defence splitting ball which found Main’s front runner perfectly and he ran on to confidently slot past Glasper to bring out the biggest cheer of the day.
It was just rewards for the effort put in by the home side who, despite Jack Taylor’s late glancing header for the visitors, which was not far away, went on to consolidate pole position in the table.
Percy Main travel to Wallsend BC on Saturday, kick-off is 2.30pm.