Percy Main concede seven in League Cup semi-final defeat

Football.
Football.

Percy Main were dumped out of the George Dobbins League Cup after conceding seven goals against Birtley Town in Saturday’s semi-final.

In contrast to the previous week’s quarter-final tie when Percy Main and Grainger Park battled through 120 gruelling minutes without a goal, there were no less than ten this time around, with seven of those ending up in The Main net, thanks mainly to a devastating second half spell from the hosts.

It was the first time this season that Richard Nugent was able to name an unchanged outfield team with Rob Rodgerson replacing Danny Nimmins in goal as the only change to the side which had progressed seven days previous.

Yet if anything, it was Percy Main who looked the more livelier during the opening exchanges as Chris Laidlaw netted a first-half hat-trick to put his side 3-1 up on 37 minutes, only to see Birtley score twice before half-time to take the sides in level at the break.

Ryan McKee almost gave the visitors a fourth minute lead as he cleverly engineered space for himself and outfoxed the home rearguard, but Phillip Mills in the Birtley goal distinguished himself with a top drawer save as he parried behind for a corner.

Minutes later the deadlock was broken in the visitors’ favour as a long diagonal ball found Sam Thompson, who centred low for Laidlaw and he made no mistake from just inside the area.

Birtley drew level on 11 minutes as Daniel Hill broke down the right and crossed for Niki Langston, his shot was saved by Rodgerson, but Aaron McEwen following up made no mistake.

Percy Main restored their lead on 22 minutes as Steven Hurd supplied Laidlaw who produced a superb strike, which seemed to move in the air and beat the goalkeeper all ends up.

And when he rounded Mills for number three it looked as though the Villagers were well in charge.

Far from it, though, as three minutes later Birtley hit back through Hill who tapped home McEwan’s left wing centre from close range to reduce the deficit and then drew level as half-time approached as James Alsopp’s deep free kick from the left touch line, was nodded home at the far post by Simon Hay.

Main started the second half on the offensive and were denied a penalty as Nicky Whitelaw tangled with Mills, which necessitated lengthy treatment for the injured goalkeeper.

At the other end, Connor Halpin had an effort kicked from the line, before Halpin gave his side the lead for the first time as McEwan provided the ammunition once more.

In reply, McKee saw his free kick tipped behind by the goalkeeper and from the resultant corner, Ant Ridley struck the crossbar and Stew Wright, following up, put the rebound over.

But Hay gave his side a two-goal advantage just past the hour mark with a headed goal, and things got worse for Percy Main as Hill advanced down the right and crossed for McEwan to score from close range.

The game threatened to boil over during the closing stage, with a series of niggling fouls and heated exchanges as five Percy Main players found themselves in the referee’s notebook.

Ridley cleared Main’s lines after a scramble in the area and McEwan miscued from close range, but the hosts had the final say deep in stoppage time as James Mobberley upended McEwan in the area and the same player stepped up to despatch the penalty beyond the dive of Rodgerson.

Percy Main revert to league action on Saturday and face promotion chasing Newcastle University at home, kick-off 2pm.