WHEN Scott Pocklington received a pass from Jordan Miller and buried the ball past keeper Stuart Taylor in to the Ponteland United net with barely 20 seconds on the clock, it appeared that the heroic morning’s labours by the tireless and indeed heroic Percy Main Amateurs committee had all been worthwhile.
Sadly, after 90 thrill-packed, heart stopping minutes at Purvis Park, it was the visitors who had cause to thank the Main’s volunteers who had spent hours forking the pitch to ensure that this game went ahead.
Even more galling for the Villagers was the fact that this had not been an ordinary league game but the semi-final of the Northumberland FA Senior Benevolent Bowl, a competition the Main have won thrice in the past; latterly in 2011 when Seaton Delaval Amateurs were beaten at Whitley Park.
After Pocklington’s early strike, the Main were not afforded much time to luxuriate in this early success as Ponteland roared back and were level before FIVE minutes had elapsed when Billy Holden took advantage of a fortuitous ricochet in the Percy Main area to arrow home a swerving, low drive that flashed past the unsighted Rob McGregor.
Only a minute after that a Pocklington corner rolled along the Ponteland six-yard line without any claret and blue shirt able to add the final touch to restore the lead.
The home side would have cause to rue this miss when Dan Wright put Ponteland ahead with a powerful header from six yards out, following a gloriously flighted ball in from the touchline.
It was almost 3-1 seconds later when Wright dribbled a miskicked shot just wide of the sprawling McGregor’s near post.
Wright made amends on 25 minutes when a straight run direct to the heart of the box saw him outpace the Main’s flat-footed defence and fire an unerring finish past McGregor.
It was not all the visitors in a crazy first half of end to end action when it seemed every attack could produce a goal.
Mickey Haley spurned Percy Main’s best chance, nodding over from inside the six-yard box following another Pocklington corner.
Just after the half hour, there was a major talking point when home striker Chris Bell bore down on goal. Having jinked past keeper Taylor, it appeared the Ponteland custodian had swept away Bell’s legs, but the perfectly positioned referee adjudged no contact to have been made and played was waved on.
This decision took the wind out of the Main’s sails somewhat and no further action was discernible before the break.
The second period was a tighter affair, but Percy Main substitute Adrian Watson put in a sparkling cameo of incisive running and eye-catching close control, but the breakthrough would not come.
Dean Ellis fired in to the side netting; Pocklington had a free kick tipped over at full stretch and Jordan Miller’s effort on the turn whistled a shade past the upright.
At the other end, Rob McGregor was called on to block twice from Holden in the same attack, before Pocklington finally halved the arrears with ten minutes to go, sending in a powerful shot from distance that caught Taylor napping at his near post.
Unfortunately, it was not enough and, despite throwing everyone including keeper McGregor forward in the last few desperate moments, Ponteland held out to claim a final place.
For the Villagers it was a disappointing result, but Shaun Galbraith’s team have plenty to play for in the remaining dozen league games, starting with the visit of high flying Carlisle city to Purvis Park next Saturday, March 16. Kick-off is 2.30pm and all are welcome.