HARRABY’S Gilford Park base has never been a happy hunting ground for Percy Main Amateurs, but the hoodoo was well and truly laid to rest last Saturday as Shaun Galbraith’s steadily improving side gained a hard earned, but fully merited victory over their Cumbrian opponents.
Last season Percy Main were beaten twice at Harraby, in the league and the Challenge Cup, and in truth fared no better this season as back in September the Cumbrians dumped The Villagers out of the same cup competition with a comprehensive 3-0 verdict.
However, this time around and with a 19-player travelling squad, the manager was faced with a few welcome selection problems.
Redmond Cockburn, who joined the club on a transfer from Blyth Town during the week, made the starting line-up, while another new signing Michael Meins had to be content with a place on the bench.
The home side were not to repeat their recent successes over the Main, and apart from Darren Addison’s confidently struck first half penalty kick for Harraby, visiting custodian Rob McGregor had little to do as the defence in front of him excelled during the course of the contest.
Percy Main’s Chris Bell, whose two-goal haul took him onto 13 for the season, deservedly took the plaudits for a couple of really well taken strikes, which drew great applause from the travelling faithful, and he narrowly shaded Micky Haley for the man of the match accolade, a player who put in a superb shift at the heart of his team’s defence, having steadied the ship no end at the back.
The opening period of the game saw half chances at either end as the Main’s James Leggett nodded Scott Pocklington’s right wing free kick into the hands of James Greenhall in the Harraby goal, and at the other end Danny Balmer headed well clear of the crossbar.
The warning signs were there for Harraby on the quarter hour mark as Dean Ellis played an astute ball from midfield and the alert Bell flicked a half volley narrowly past the upright.
But soon after the stalemate was broken in Percy Main’s favour as Jordan Miller, another recent acquisition, released Bell, who rounded Greenhall and still left with a lot to do, managed to slot the ball home despite the desperate attentions of a couple of back-pedaling defenders.
With Main looking to get on top, it was perhaps a bit of a surprise when Harraby levelled as Mathew Brown was allowed to cross unchallenged to Peter Ferris, who was upended by Dean Morgan in the area. The referee Johnny Walker had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Addison converted the spot kick.
Minutes later the home side almost went one better as Balmer evaded the challenge of Leggett, but his low shot from an acute angle was dealt with by McGregor.
Not long after the start of the second half, Percy Main were indebted to a vital goal line clearance by Haley, but managed to regain the lead on 50 minutes as McGregor’s long kick from goal reached Bell who controlled well and fired over the head of Greenhall from the edge of the area.
Miller then fired off target for Percy Main and Pocklington fouled just outside the box, took the free kick himself, only to blaze over. In reply Harraby’s Brett Swift fired a centre from Ferris just past the post and Balmer had a shot charged down by Dave Surrey, as Harraby tried to make the most of Mathew Brown’s long throw in’s from either flank.
Percy Main stage what is undoubtedly their biggest game of the season on Saturday, when Ponteland United provide the opposition in the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Benevolent Bowl, as The Villagers endeavour to regain the prestigious County Cup competition last won by the club during the 201-11 season.