Percy Main snatched all three points in their derby game with North Shields Athletic with a late strike from substitute Dan Sneap.
Dan Barlow’s 87th minute strike looked as though Athletic had done enough to snatch a draw, but Sneap, on as a late replacement for first half goal scorer Sam Thompson, fired home at the far post to ensure maximum points for the Villagers.
With Wednesday’s Bill Gardner Cup final against Carlisle City in mind, the win was just the tonic Main needed.
The sides had faced each other on the opening day of the season on a baking hot day at John Spence, when the spoils were shared in a highly entertaining 3-3 draw, which had swung one way and then another, but perhaps at the time, no one present would have predicted that Percy Main would go on to lose their next eight games and subsequently prop up the Northern Alliance premier division table.
Thankfully, following a 3-1 away win at Red House Farm in September, Main rallied and climbed the table, particularly after the Christmas break, when their form, had it just shown a little more consistency would surely have led to a top six finish.
Team manager Richard Nugent has brought in astute signings which have blended in well with the current squad and bodes well for the future, such as forward Anth Brown from Longbenton, centre half Elliot Mitchell, who has shown great potential, and Steven Hurd, who had impressed during past encounters with Walker Central.
But it was the visitors who carved out the better openings during the early exchanges.
Craig Boyle, one of Athletic’s goal scorers in the earlier game, fired wide, while Scott Jasper and Barlow went close.
But Athletic’s early possession was to count for nothing and just past the half hour mark it was Percy Main who were celebrating and the deadlock was broken as Stewart Wright flicked the ball on for Thompson who ran on to fire past the dive of Dan Rule for his 12th of the season.
Brown was full of running and a thorn in the side of the visitors defence throughout, while Thompson just failed to connect as the Villagers looked for a second
At the other end, left back Ant Ridley preserved Main’s slender lead as he kicked clear from the near post as Barlow’s right wing corner was fired goal wards through a crowd of players as North Shields responded.
At the beginning of the second half, Wright headed over a right wing corner taken by Ryan McKee for Percy Main, but the home side were indebted to another vital interception, this time by Mitchell as Barlow bore down on goal and had a definite let off a minute later as Jasper, without the time to control the ball, blazed a low cross over the bar with the goal gaping.
Chances came and went at both ends, Thompson and Brown combined for Main to release Jack Armstrong, who saw his shot from the edge of the area saved by Rule, Boyle fired over the angle from outside the area and Barlow saw his shot tipped behind for a corner by the alert Rob Rodgerson in the home goal.
During the closing stages, McKee twice went close for Percy Main, his second being a well struck half volley from Wright’s diagonal pass which Rule did well to parry behind, but perhaps inevitably North Shields drew level with minutes remaining as Boyle, who had impressed throughout, drilled home from inside the area.
Those who thought that Percy Main were about to repeat recent drawn games at Purvis Park against Walker Central and Whitley Bay A when they had been ahead in both, were forced into a rethink as a late flurry towards the North Shields goal saw Elliott cross deep to the far side of the area and Sneap fired home.
Percy Main play their final game of the season when they travel to Killingworth Town on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.