North Shields won the Gary Hull Memorial Trophy for the seventh time in front of a large crowd inside Purvis Park on Saturday.
But The Robins were pushed all the way by a spirited Percy Main side who could take a lot of credit from their performance and who this season will play their football some three divisions beneath their visitors.
The game, played out in memory of the Villagers’ former treasurer and committee member, has always provided an entertaining spectacle with no lack of goals.
And the 12th running of the event proved to be just that as both North Tyneside teams gave their all and were deservedly greeted with loud applause at the final whistle.
The early morning and previous day’s rain had given way to a fairly bright afternoon and thankfully the bulk of the predicted thunderstorms failed to materialise, although typically the heavens opened during the post-match presentation to soaken the award recipients.
North Shields had the bulk of the possession throughout the game but found themselves facing some determined defending by Main’s rearguard, while those who turned out for the home side, albeit without managing to create too many clear cut goal scoring opportunities, will have given the management team a few selection headaches in advance of the league season’s curtain opener this Saturday.
Main were hampered by the absence of midfield pairing Ryan McKee and Dave Surrey through unavailability and injury, who had impressed during pre-season run outs, but were able to turn out a strong squad which was rotated throughout the game, with many keen to impress against higher ranked opposition.
North Shields for their part started with the strike pairing of last season’s Northern League footballer of the year Gareth Bainbridge, who hit 55 goals all told last term, and Dan Smart, who himself netted 30 times during The Robins championship winning season.
Early play saw Rob Rodgerson in the Percy Main goal block well from the lively Smart, while at the other end Joe Betts glanced a header just wide for Percy Main.
Curtis Copping for The Robins was next to try his luck, but his header was once again thwarted by the goalkeeper, while Joe Elliott fired a free kick just over the crossbar.
The deadlock was broken in North Shields’ favour on 36 minutes as former Blyth Town full back Jack Donnison forged forward, found himself up ended in the area and Bainbridge as expected, made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Not long after the break Bainbridge doubled his side’s lead with a quality headed goal from Kieran Wrightson’s measured right wing centre which gave Rodgerson no chance.
In reply Main pressed and Betts’ through ball just failed to reach the forward running Chris Laidlaw.
The deficit was halved on 80 minutes as promising youngster Curtis Miller burst into the area and brought a diving save from Michael Robinson, but Sam Thompson who had been the pick of the Villagers attack struck the rebound home from just inside the area.
Any comeback hopes for Percy Main were soon dashed, though, as Ryan Carr tucked away a low shot with three minutes of the game remaining to restore North Shields’ two-goal cushion.
The handsome trophy and medals were presented pitch side to the participants and officials after the final whistle by Gary’s parents, John and Joan Hull, and his brothers John, David and Paul.
This Saturday Percy Main get their league season up and running with a home game against Newcastle Chemfica – kick-off is 2.30pm.