The annual pre-season Gary Hull Memorial Trophy saw Northern League North Shields secure a narrow 1-0 win over Northern Alliance outfit Percy Main.
The annual fixture once again proved to be a great success and a fitting tribute to Percy Main’s former treasurer as a crowd of 402, Purvis Park’s biggest for some time, saw the game ultimately go the way of the Robins, who had enjoyed the bulk of possession throughout but found themselves unable to add to their early goal.
The game, which has become a major fixture in the football calendar and which goes from strength to strength, was played out in good spirit and a fantastic atmosphere as North Shields’ large band of enthusiastic supporters helped to make the occasion all the more memorable.
It also showed the good side of local football as the Robins supporters and players staged an impromptu bucket collection in aid of Percy Main’s forthcoming pavilion refurbishment which raised a staggering £444.
On display was the FA Vase as both sides posed for a pre-match photograph, along with the handsome Gary Hull Memorial Trophy and the Northern Alliance first division trophy which had been won by Percy Main at the end of last season.
The match was temporarily halted in the 17th minute due to an immaculately observed minute’s applause by players, supporters and officials in tribute to football supporters Liam Sweeney and John Alder who were tragically killed in the MH-17 flight over the Ukraine just over a year ago. Barry Sweeney, Liam’s father, was one of the assistant referees on the day.
North Shields fielded Gary Ormston, a close season capture from Dunston UTS, and he came closest to adding to The Robins tally with a shot which struck the upright in the second half, while Main found themselves shorn of seven key players due to injury, illness and unavailability, which noticeably affected their attacking options.
Nnetheless, manager Richard Nugent was happy with his side’s endeavours against the FA Vase winners.
Main looked nervous during the opening stages and went a goal down on two minutes as Jack Walker lofted the ball into the area and Ryan Carr stole in front of goalkeeper Rob Rodgerson to head home.
Gareth Bainbridge, the Robins’ top scorer by some way during the past two seasons, threatened throughout, but despite going close on several occasions during the afternoon, and thanks to some resolute defending by the Villagers’ rearguard, he was denied a goal.
Percy Main for their part came closest during the latter stages of the first half as Andy Middlemass found himself in the clear but was unable to direct his shot past Chris Bannon in the visitors goal.
Percy Main will face Northern League opposition again on Saturday when Brandon United visit Purvis Park for their final pre-season friendly, kick-off 2.30pm.