Percy Main’s first game of 2017 ended in a six-goal thriller which swung one way and then the other as the sides took it in turns to lead.
In the end, Percy Main and Northbank Carlisle settled for a well earned point.
For Main, there were mixed feelings as the visitors found themselves 2-0 down after just ten minutes, but had rallied to lead 3-2 just past the hour mark.
But it was Northbank who finished the stronger and but for some better luck in front of goal they might have had the game wrapped up themselves.
Penalty shouts were the order of the afternoon and while the home side had a couple of perhaps arguable appeals turned down in the second half, they were indebted to a controversial handball decision early on which put them in a commanding position and angered those in claret and blue.
Carlisle is not a happy hunting ground for Percy Main, who normally find themselves bereft of a couple of key travelling players for one reason or another and Saturday was no different.
Perhaps the Christmas excesses had taken their toll as well, but there was barely 20 seconds on the clock when Main’s Rob Ridley upended Jordan Cowley on the edge of the area and Northbank’s Ricky James, so often a scorer against Percy Main in the recent past, curled a beautiful free kick past the dive of Rob Rodgerson in the visitors goal.
Josh Morley went close for Northbank before the visitors doubled their lead as Chris Glass was adjudged to have handled Cowley’s drive into the area, it looked like ball to hand, to the visitors anyway, but the referee thought otherwise and Cowley stepped up to double his side’s advantage, with a well taken penalty.
Percy Main endeavoured to get back into the game without unduly troubling Stephen Townsley in the Northbank goal as the home custodian routinely dealt with long range efforts by Nicky Whitelaw and Hylton Hub, while Jak Morris probed in the midfield and tested the goalkeeper with a long range free kick.
Rodgerson in the opposite goal saved well from Nathan Hodgson, but produced the outstanding moment of the game on 43 minutes with a brilliant reflex save to deny John Heyes, whose header from close range had goal written all over it.
It was a critical moment in the game coming as it did so close to half-time, which had it gone in, might have given Northbank a seemingly unassailable lead.
Main manager Richard Nugent gave his side a comprehensive touchline dressing down at half-time as the ground was pummelled and the water bottles went for a burton, and it had the desired effect as just six minutes later Percy Main were level.
Firstly, Whitelaw saw his shot deflected for a corner and from the half cleared flag kick, Sam Thompson advanced into the area and fired goalwards to which Stewart Wright got the vital touch for his side’s first.
Barely two minutes had elapsed before parity was restored, this time Ant Ridley supplied the cross from the left flank and Hylton Hub rose to head past Townsley.
On 63 minutes, things got even better for Main with Hub instrumental once more as his shot was part cleared by Townsley and Thompson following up put the visitors ahead for the first time in the game.
Typically and in keeping with the rest of the game, the lead did not last long, four minutes in fact, as Northbank substitute Jack Hannah advanced down the left and crossed low for James who drove the ball past Rodgerson.
The home side came closest to adding to the scoreline as James’ deep ball from the same flank just failed to reach the on-rushing Heyes at the far post and Hannah again almost gained a second assist, but James was unable to convert his low, deep cross and instead saw his effort just the wrong side of the post.
This Saturday, Percy Main travel to Birtley Town, kick-off 2pm.