Percy Main suffer another early cup exit

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Percy Main’s cup hoodoo continued at Bigges Main as Wallsend won a close fought Combination Cup game.

The contest will be remembered for three goals during a frenetic five minutes near the end as the game swung one way and then the other.

Main, who still lead the Northern Alliance first division by seven points, have barely put a foot wrong when contesting their league games, yet have exited the Northumberland Benevolent Bowl, the League Cup and now the Combination cup at their early stages, leaving the Bill Gardner Trophy as the only distraction to their league campaign for the 2014-15 season.

The sides had previously met at Wallsend’s base in a league encounter during the first month of the season and the 0-0 draw, which was equally close to call, has been the only game in which Percy Main have dropped points to date.

That contest was noted for the strong cross-field wind which had prevailed throughout, while Saturday’s game was also spoiled to a degree by similar conditions on another gusty afternoon.

The Villagers were missing four of those who had featured in the 3-1 Benevolent Bowl reverse against Red House seven days earlier due to injury and unavailability.

Team manager and head coach Richard Nugent and Danny Nelson were forced to name themselves among the substitutes, but in-form forward Chris Laidlaw returned to the side following the completion of his two-game suspension, although his own involvement was curtailed by injury midway through the second half.

Both sides endeavoured to make the early running with half chances at either end falling to Main’s Joe Betts and Alex Nisbett for Wallsend, but it was the home side who came the closest on 24 minutes as Harvey Lockwood’s audacious chip from the edge of the angle sailed over the head of Rob Rodgerson in the visitors goal but was just wide of the far post.

Percy Main’s best effort came five minutes later as Sam Thompson touched on to Dan Sneap and his stinging effort was tipped round the post by home custodian Michael Robertshaw.

Main had appeals for a penalty turned down as Laidlaw appeared to be the victim of a high challenge in the area, while at the other end Hindmarch fired narrowly wide.

But with half-time approaching, Wallsend took the lead as Liam Stubbs took advantage of a deep low right wing centre to direct his low shot past the dive of Rodgerson.

Percy Main started the second half with a couple of long range efforts by Sneap and Davey Surrey, but it was the home side who were celebrating once more as Hindmarch did well to get in between two defenders before lofting the ball over the desperately back pedalling Rodgerson, which somehow crept in to double Wallsend’s lead.

Wallsend had their own penalty appeals turned down as James Leggett’s challenge on Nisbett was deemed as fair, while in reply, Laidlaw found himself crowded out from Betts flick on and Sam Thompson’s low cross-shot was dealt with by Robertshaw.

Main pressed again and in a sweeping cross-field move involving Surrey and Betts, Thompson’s shot was palmed behind by the goalkeeper.

Percy Main threw themselves a lifeline on 80 minutes as Ryan Laws’ free kick into a crowded area was inadvertently deflected in by a home defender.

But only three minutes later, Hindmarsh almost restored his side’s two-goal advantage only to see Percy Main quickly hit back on the break as substitute Steve Hart finished off the counter attack to hit the leveller, which looked as though it would take the tie into extra time.

But Wallsend had other ideas and incredibly went back in front as Anthony Brannon crossed high from the left and Hindmarsh challenging with Rodgerson, bundled the ball home.

There were appeals for a foul on the goalkeeper by the visiting contingent, but they were waved away by the referee and the goal won the tie for the home side.

This Saturday Percy Main travel to Birtley St Joseph’s in a Northern Alliance league match. Kick-off is 2pm.