PERCY Main Amateurs fell to a single goal defeat at a chilly Monkchester on a bleak December afternoon to a plucky Walker Central side.
With the home team sitting second from bottom in the Northern Alliance premier division and the visiting Villagers having failed to collect three points since their 5-1 win away to Stocksfield on September 10, this was a real relegation six pointer.
Sadly the outcome means that the Main are above Walker only on goal difference and out of the drop zone by three places and three points, having lost the last three games and taken only three points out of the last 27.
However, it is not all doom and gloom – debutant keeper Chris Bannon, the former West Allotment Celtic custodian, turned in a brilliant man of the match performance, pulling off a string of breathtaking saves in a second period dominated entirely by Walker.
One double save from Paul Mills, parrying an initial header, then getting up to turn a fierce shot round the post was far beyond the quality of anything displayed by the other players on the pitch the whole game.
Sadly, when he was finally beaten after initially denying former Main midfielder Ian Graham with a point blank stop, it proved to be the decisive moment of the game.
In truth, were Bannon not to have been in such outstanding form, the margin of defeat could have been considerably worse than it eventually was, as Percy Main effectively created nothing in the whole of the second period.
However, the first period was a totally different story, with Percy Main totally in the ascendancy in the opening 30 minutes.
One early blow was the loss of returning skilful midfielder Kyle Houshby, who turned his ankle after two minutes and had to be carried from the field.
Replacement Nkuriza ‘Drogs’ Suabi was a constant unpredictable thorn in the side of both the Walker defence and many of his team-mates as his meandering dribbles often resulted in play switching from one wing to the other, with little evident concrete end product.
His striking partner Kevin Westphal twice came close in the opening period, firstly firing just over after a clever short corner routine and secondly burying a fierce effort in to keeper Thomas Bridgett’s midriff.
Drogs was also twice denied, once by Bridgett’s save down low to his right and then by the bar after great work down the bright by Westphal and Paul Blakey.
When Bridgett smothered a Drogs effort a minute after he had hit the bar, the Main had effectively had their last chance of the game on 40 minutes.
Soon after, portents of what was to come were shown by Bannon, twice athletically tipping shots over by Michael Crame and then Paul Mills.
It was a warning of what was to come.
Percy Main will attempt to pick themselves up for the final game of 2011, when Harraby Catholic Club visit Purvis Park on Saturday, when the game kicks-off at 2pm.
Win, lose or draw, all friends and followers are invited to the club’s Christmas party in the Tap & Spile, Tynemouth Road, North Shields, from 7.30pm on the Saturday night.