Despite the somewhat harsh 6-2 scoreline, Percy Main could take heart from a battling performance in their extra time Northumberland Senior Benevolent Bowl defeat to Whitley Bay A.
The display went some way to banishing the memory of the poor showing which had resulted in a 1-0 home league reverse against Hebburn Reyrolle, some seven days earlier.
Whitley Bay had defeated the Villagers 6-0 at Hillheads Park back in August and were hot favourites to advance to the next stage of the county cup competition.
But following an early Curtis Miller strike for Percy Main, the visitors found themselves behind for 80 minutes of the game, before Andrew Robertson’s goal two minutes from the end of normal time threw Bay the lifeline they needed.
The odds were stacked against Main before the game as team manager Shaun Galbraith was able to name only two fit outfield substitutes, while the starting line-up included Connor Hale, Rob Ridley and Joe Betts, who were all carrying knocks which would ultimately hamper their contribution to the side, and to rub salt in the wounds, Michael Carangelo limped from the action during the second half to add to the growing casualty list.
One of the plus points of recent games for Main has been the signing of young goalkeeper Reece Dobie, whose form has been nothing short of a revelation, and Saturday proved no exception as he pulled off a string of top drawer saves, particularly in the first half as Whitley made the running.
The opening minute belonged to Percy Main who started in determined fashion.
Curtis Miller, looking for his first goal for the club, seized onto a loose ball and fired just wide, and Chris Laidlaw, who just about covered every blade of grass on the pitch, brought a smart save from Michael Hammond in the Whitley goal.
It was Miller who broke the deadlock only eight minutes in with a fine individual goal as he left a couple of defenders in his wake before firing home an unstoppable shot past the dive of Hammond.
The goal seemed to inspire Whitley Bay, who pressed. Dobie saved from Robertson while the same forward miscued in the area following a good ball in by Gavin Hattrick.
Alex Kempster was next to test the home custodian with a free kick just outside the angle, while Connor Johnson’s shot just cleared the far post.
More action around the Villagers goal saw Dobie save well from Robertson’s back post header and Johnson fired over the bar.
Percy Main started the second half as they had the first, Miller fed Ridley and his stinging goalbound drive was brilliantly tipped over by Hammond, but this proved to be only a temporary stay of execution for the visitors as Ross Berkeley’s resultant corner found James Leggett, who headed home to double the Villagers lead.
Whitley countered as Johnson fired across the face of goal and Tom Potter’s shot cleared the crossbar.
Just past the hour the visitors clawed themselves back in the game as Hale’s challenge on Kempster in the area was deemed illegal and Robertson drilled home the penalty kick.
Betts sent a fizzing 30-yard effort just over for Main and Laidlaw headed just past the post as Percy Main looked to restore their two-goal lead.
But with time running out it was Robertson for Whitley Bay who was to score his side’s crucial goal which took the game into extra time, having latched onto a long ball from defence before rounding Dobie.
Things went from bad to worse for Percy Main as Jordan Miller, who had been instrumental for the home side, was red carded for a foul and Liam Harris’s overhead kick in the fifth minute of extra time for Whitley Bay gave his side the lead for the first time in the afternoon.
By far the stronger side in extra time and with numerical advantage, Whitley Bay wrapped the game up with further goals from Robertson (2) and Hattrick.
This Saturday, Percy Main face Carlisle City at Purvis Park, kick-off is 2.30pm.