Percy Main continue to struggle at Carlisle City’s Gillford Park

Never a happy hunting ground for Percy Main, Carlisle City’s well equipped Gillford Park stadium once more presided over a 4-1 victory for the Cumbrian hosts.

It was an identical scoreline to which the Villagers had been on the end of just three weeks previous as Northbank Carlisle had used the ground as their temporary base.

Promotion seeking Carlisle City, joint third in the table and enjoying a nine-match unbeaten run, were expected to pose a stiffer test.

And they did, but on reflection perhaps the margin of their victory was harsh on a Villagers side which once again had to deal with a host of absentees who figured in the previous week’s impressive 4-0 win over Walker Central.

It was a poor performance by Main on their last visit to Carlisle, and although there were positives to be taken from the performance, the visitors never troubled the City defence enough to pose a serious threat to the final outcome.

Matters were made worse for the visitors as goalkeeper Danny Nimmins was forced to limp from the field with over half an hour left to play, and centre half Mathew Speedie donned the gloves.

However, the enforced switch failed to have too much of a bearing on the result as a combination of some assured and perhaps unorthodox handling by the stand-in custodian and City’s inability to unduly trouble Speedie prevented the home side running up too much of a convincing scoreline.

Unlike the Northbank game which had taken almost to the half-time mark to come to life, this game saw one of Percy Main’s goals of the season scored only two minutes in by Redmond Cockburn.

A long ball played into the area was laid off by Anth Brown to Cockburn some 25 yards from goal, and he fired home an unstoppable thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner which gave Michael Ballantyne in the home goal no chance.

The celebrations did not last long, six minutes in fact, until parity was restored as Adam Green fouled Marc Shiel on the touchline. Jamie Heath’s free kick rebounded off the far post and David Fisher converted the rebound from close range.

Only three minutes later City, well in the ascendancy, found themselves in front as Alan Casey was upended on the edge of the area and Dan Greenslade fired home a low shot which somehow found its way through the visitors assembled wall.

The rest of the half belonged to the Cumbrians with only the odd foray into the home half by Main.

Greenslade headed over from a right wing corner and Ryan Errington’s diving header from Shiel’s centre was also narrowly too high.

Errington, City’s top scorer with 14 goals from 12 appearances this season, flashed a shot from distance just past the far post, but the home centre forward duly added his side’s third with half-time approaching as he drilled home from another flag kick.

Percy Main came close with seconds played of the second half as Green’s deep cross was headed just off target by Sean Cowx, but Carlisle hit their fourth on 64 minutes after having loud penalty appeals turned down, the ball half cleared fell to Craig Cherry whose shot from well outside the area took a wicked deflection on its way into the net.

At the other end, Green’s foraging run into the City area was abruptly and illegally halted, Ryan McKee’s well struck free kick was expertly tipped round the post by Ballantyne and from the resultant corner, Cockburn looking for his second of the afternoon, fired just wide.

City also tried their luck as the on-rushing Mark Whorral just failed to get on the end of a low cross from the left flank and Shield fired across the face of goal in what was a good chance for the Cumbrians.

This Saturday Percy Main hve home advantage over Gateshead Rutherford in the semi-final of the Bill Gardner Cup.

The game will kick-off at 2pm with the sides vying to face Longbenton or Carlisle City in the final.