League leaders Percy Main record eighth win of the season

Percy Main chalked up their 8th league win of the season at the expense of Wooler.

The visitors, who had won only once in the league this season and were making their first ever trip to Purvis Park, made Main fight hard for the points with the decisive goals having to wait until the final third of the contest.

Although the win was welcome, there was to be no repeat of The Villagers’ previous two home games, against Newcastle University and Heddon, which had yielded 15 goals in Percy Main’s favour.

Wooler showed greater determination and presented more of a physical challenge.

The end result meant that at the end of September, Percy Main extended their lead at the top of the table to five points following AFC Newbiggin’s loss at Birtley, and for the second week running forward Chris Laidlaw hit the headlines, this time for the right and the wrong reasons.

Following a spell of indifferent form at the end of last season and the beginning of this, Laidlaw’s current form has been nothing short of a revelation, as following his four-goal haul against Heddon seven days previous, he cleverly made Sam Thompson’s opener on the hour and scored a superb individual goal some ten minutes later, yet was controversially red carded for alleged comments made as the game neared it’s conclusion.

Any thoughts of a goal avalanche in the home side’s favour were banished early on as Wooler#s James Scott seized on a poor kick out but fired just past the post in what was seen as a let off for Main.

Minutes later the same centre forward headed Jamie Punton’s corner over the crossbar from close in.

At the other end Graham Allen’s long range effort was competently dealt with by Garelh Pearson in the Wooler goal, and Dan Sneap fired over the angle.

But Wooler came the closest as Luke Strangeways’ deep right wing corner was nodded back into the danger area and Michael Saunders’ touched the ball just past the post.

Dave Surrey, who was making his first start of the season for Percy Main on his return from injury, linked up with Sam Thompson down the right, and his low pass found Sneap but his effort was blocked on the line.

In reply, Strangeways’ deep curling free kick from out wide on the right evaded all in the home penalty area and drifted harmlessly behind for a goal kick.

With the scoreline blank at the interval, there were chances at both ends at the start of the second half, Thompson’s shot for Main was parried by Pearson with no one on hand to capitalise, while Wooler’s Scott drilled across the face of goal.

The stalemate was broken on 60 minutes as Laidlaw made space down the right and centred perfectly for Thompson who emphatically blasted home his 11th of the season to visibly lift the home side.

Percy Main’s advantage was almost doubled two minutes later as the same attacking combination saw Thompson fire inches the wrong side of the post, while Rob Carr powered Surrey’s corner just wide.

It seemed inevitable that Percy Main would go further ahead and the second goal duly arrived on 70 minutes as Laidlaw played through the middle and with defenders all around him, showed great pace and guile to outwit the opposition before calmly chipping the ball over the advancing Pearson to score one of the best goals seen at Purvis Park so far this season.

There was controversy minutes later as substitute Joe Betts was added to the fray for Main in place of Sneap and his first taste of action saw him cynically scythed down near the halfway line by Fraser Tait, a challenge which saw the Wooler defender go unpunished by the referee, while the subsequent free kick saw the same centre half appear to raise his hands to Betts, which resulted in both being cautioned.

Following Laidlaw’s late dismissal during the closing stages, Percy Main’s Carr saw another headed effort cleared from the line and Ryan Laws advanced into the area but found himself thwarted by Pearson.

Percy Main travel to Gosforth Bohemians this Saturday, kick-off at Benson Park is 2.30pm.