Once again Percy Main’s management team found themselves having to juggle the pack as work commitments and injury to key players affected team selection for the game against Whitley Bay A.
But those who did represent The Villagers gave their all and made the visitors work hard, with Whitley Bay having to wait until the latter stages before making sure of their victory.
The main talking point leading up to the match had been that of the tragic death of former Percy Main midfielder David Tapsfield in a skiing accident in the French Alps four days prior to the contest.
Just before kick-off the players, officials and supporters fittingly paid their own tribute with a minute’s applause, while the match programme dedicated itself to ‘Tapsy’ and included comments from former team-mates.
Lining up in the blue and white of Whitley Bay was Chris Bell, who had scooped last season’s Players’ Player and Young Player of the Year award for Percy Main before moving on to Blyth Town and more lately the visitors, while Ian Graham and Paolo Black had both represented the Hillheads Park club in the recent past and found themselves facing their former side.
Rob Rodgerson in the Percy Main goal was first of the custodians to taste action as he bravely saved at the feet of Andy Robertson.
Minutes later he dealt with a low free kick taken by Lewis Burns from just outside the area, which evaded the hastily assembled wall.
At the other end, Michael Carangelo, making only his second appearance following a long injury lay off, squared for Stewart Wright, and the forward who registered against Red House Farm the previous week, brought a save from Michael Hammond in the visitors goal at the second attempt.
The large crowd inside Purvis Park, which had been boosted by a healthy travelling support from Whitley Bay, saw the visitors take the lead with 19 minutes on the clock as Burns latched onto a measured through ball before calmly slotting past the dive of the on-rushing Rodgerson.
The same player almost doubled his side’s lead moments later, stretching in vain to get on the end of a left wing cross, while Michael Clement saw his shot blocked and Burns headed over from David Fairgrieve’s flag kick as the visitors made the running.
With the second half five minutes old, Wright for The Villagers played in Dan Sneap down the right, who fired into the side netting for Percy Main, while Whitley threatened to take control as Robertson brought a diving save from Rodgerson who parried behind for a corner.
However, Whitley Bay soon extended their lead and the second goal duly arrived just before the hour mark ,as the ball half cleared by the home defence, fell to Robertson who made no mistake from just inside the area.
Ryan Redford then rattled a shot against Main’s crossbar from outside the area, before the home side almost threw themselves a lifeline as Ryan McKee’s free kick was headed on by Wright and Gareth Armstrong’s shot was blocked by the well marshalled Whitley defence.
Rodgerson, by far the busier of the goalkeepers, made a brilliant double save to deny Bell and Robertson, but the third goal wasn’t far from coming and it was Robertson who registered his second of the afternoon with a speculative chip from out wide on the right which deceived the goalkeeper.
The dying minutes saw Main’s Wright head into the hands of Hammond, before the visitors wrapped up the scoring in injury time as Burns found Bell whose shot was parried by Rodgerson, but substitute Gavin Hattrick was handily placed to tuck in the rebound.
On Saturday, Percy Main travel to Stocksfield for another league game. Kick-off is 2.30pm.