DESPITE a brave, battling performance in front of a healthy crowd at Grounsell Park, Percy Main Amateurs returned from the short trip to Heaton Stannington empty handed.
The home side prevailed by a single goal in a tight, absorbing encounter on St Patrick’s Day.
The match was decided in the 36th minute when Tony Browell’s clearing header was seized on by the impressive Johnathon Wright, one of a triumvirate of fleet-footed, agile Heaton forwards.
Wright, displaying superb technique, hit an unstoppable first time volley that nestled in the top corner of the net with Rob Rodgerson well beaten.
While this was an excellent piece of skill, the game may well have been different if James Leggett had scored with an early header following a corner.
However, the Main captain was unable to direct the ball on target and the Villagers saw the first presentable opportunity passed up, an event they later had cause to rue.
Heaton Stannington were presented with an early chance to open the scoring when Jevon Jull was adjudged to have impeded long serving Andrew Weeks.
Jull was booked for his efforts, with the referee adjudging that a clear goal scoring opportunity had not been denied, so the sides stayed level at 11 men a piece.
Seconds later the score remained 0-0 when Wright, having sent Rodgerson the wrong way from the penalty spot, rolled the ball wide of the target.
Following this let off, Main attempted to come again, but Wright’s strike partner Michael Waggett became a real thorn in the visitors side.
Firstly he collected a loose ball on the by-line, advanced ten yards and unleashed a delicious curling effort that smacked off the bar and rebounded to safety.
Moments later, he regained possession and drove in to the box, standing up a peach of a ball for the on-rushing Scott Parker, who headed wastefully in to the ground, the ball rebounding over the crossbar by some considerable margin.
While it was predominantly the home side who were showing their attacking prowess, the mercurial Tony Abladey was able to show some of his magic as well, working a good opportunity in centre field before firing over.
Kevin Westphal carried on his recent good form, shooting a shade over the angle of bar and post after a strong run.
Sadly, this all came to nothing when Wright opened the scoring.
And it could have been 2-0 soon after, only for smart handling by the astute Rodgerson, who was able to block and smother an effort from a suspiciously offside looking Waggett.
After the break, Percy Main tightened up considerably, with Browell reverting to centre half.
As a result, chances were at a premium; much to the chagrin of a home side whose Kye Waters was cautioned for an ugly lunge on Tony Burnell, then lucky to escape being dismissed following another challenge.
However, the sides remained even in numbers, though sadly not in goals scored.
This could have been different if Abladey had been able to squeeze the ball home from the narrowest of angles, having seized on a tentative backpass and rounding home keeper Shaun Backhouse.
The Main’s other great chance came soon after when Burnell’s speculative lob from the edge of the area was slightly too high.
Following this, it appeared the visitors lost some belief in their ability to rescue something from the game, as Parker, Wright and Waggett all had chances to extend Heaton Stannington’s lead.
However, a combination of good goalkeeping, strong defence and profligacy in the area meant the game ended in a 1-0 scoreline.
On Saturday Percy Main Amateurs are away to Ashington Colliers in the Pin Point Recruitment Northern Alliance premier division. Kick-off at Hirst Welfare is 2.30pm.