Draw fails to blow Percy Main’s good start off course

Following relegation at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Percy Main can look back on the opening month of the new season with a great deal of satisfaction.

They have won six and drawn one of their opening seven games, a run which has propelled them to the top of the Northern Alliance first division, where a five-point lead has been established over AFC Newbiggin who currently sit second.

A return of four points from a possible six against previously unbeaten sides Cramlington Town and Wallsend Boys Club during the past week has brought a welcome return against quality sides who will also likely be challenging in the promotion shake up come the end of the season.

Percy Main’s last midweek game of 2014, some three days prior, had seen The Villagers take a 3-1 interval lead against Cramlington courtesy of Ryan Laws’ early free kick and strikes from Dan Sneap and Sam Thompson, and although the home side hit back with a goal just after the break, Main held out for a creditable three points.

Sneap and Thompson, who both figured for the Villagers in brief spells last season due to unavailability, have been regular performers this time around and have made their presence felt with ten goals between them to date, although the goal scoring threat has been shared throughout the team.

Competition for places in the starting line-up has been keen for all positions, while in the team’s rearguard, Percy Main boast the division’s meanest defence with only six goals conceded.

Last Saturday, Percy Main and Wallsend shared the spoils in a wind affected game as neither side were able to breach the others’ well marshalled defence.

The draw was probably a deserved outcome as both worked hard throughout the game, yet neither goalkeeper was unduly troubled as there were more goal attempts wide of the mark, than those which would trouble the custodians of other side.

Early examples saw Wallsend’s Nicky Whitelaw twice impeded in key positions just outside the area, while the resultant free kicks were fired into the wall and high over the bar by Karl Morrison and Steve McCabe respectively.

In reply, Redmond Cockburn, who excelled in the game at Cramlington, blazed well over twice, and Adam Green made space down the right but his run and cross just evaded his on-rushing team-mates.

Thompson also tried his luck, but his low shot was easily collected by Michael Robinson in the home goal, while Main’s front runner was off target with a couple of efforts from distance.

Wallsend for their part appeared to start the second half in more determined fashion as Whitelaw’s effort was deflected behind for a corner and Martin Dowd shot into the hands of Rob Rodgerson, between the sticks for the Villagers.

Percy Main’s best spell came midway through the second half as a good move down the left involving Rob Watson and Sneap found Joe Betts, whose shot was touched around the post by Robertson, while Cockburn cleverly made space for himself before firing over.

On 66 minutes there was a let off for Main as Kieran Dewhurst got the better of Paolo Black and shot against the post, and although Christopher Brennan curled the ball just over the crossbar during the closing stages, this was as close as the hosts came.

In between, Thompson was pulled back 20 yards from goal and Betts’ subsequent free kick just skimmed the outside of the upright, and Ryan McKee, played in by Thompson in a crowded penalty area, just failed to get the ball down and fired over.

This Saturday Percy Main take a break from league action and travel to Northbank Carlisle in the first round of the Bay Plastics George Dobbins League Cup. Kick-off at The Sheepmount is 2pm.