PERCY Main Amateurs slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Gateshead Rutherford during their Northern Alliance Premier Division clash.
The Shaun Galbraith era at Purvis Park began in disappointing fashion with a defeat away to relegation-threatened Gateshead Rutherford, on a raw afternoon at Beggarswood in Lobley Hill.
Even more galling was the fact that substitute Ross Taylor’s 88th minute winner not only had a hint of offside about it, but that it was the first time in 40 minutes that the home side had launched an attack on recalled keeper Rob McGregor’s goal.
Despite a pronounced overnight frost and plummeting temperatures, the pitch was in immaculate condition as the game kicked off. The opening exchanges of this contest were more brawn than brain as cerebral football was not on the agenda.
McGregor was soon called in to action to perform a brilliant tip over from Drew Pittock’s effort. From the resulting corner, the Main keeper had to be alert to block a wickedly deflected header.
Sadly, he was powerless to stop the home side opening the scoring on 13 minutes, when centre half Mark McMeekin rose unchallenged to head in at the back post from a set play.
This setback roused the Main and within seconds they could have been level, as Chris Bell received a pass from Dan Quine in midfield, and then unleashed a fearsome drive that flashed just over the bar. Ray Oshin also came close with an angled drive from the edge of the box.
However, Bell did equalise on 25 minutes with an astute control, swivel and shot from the penalty spot that left the Rutherford defence completely bamboozled.
If Percy Main thought this was the time to wrest control of the game, they were to be disappointed as McGregor was called in to action to make a flying one handed save from Eddie Keenan to keep the scores level as the teams went in to the break.
Immediately after the restart, McGregor made two vital blocks, firstly denying Shaun Todhunter in a one-on-one situation, after the Rutherford striker had sprinted clear of the visiting back line, then even more impressively getting down low to tip away a venomous Keenan drive.
From then on, possession was mainly with Percy Main, though a goal looked unlikely; Oshin sidefooting a Dean Ellis dinked pass just wide of the far post was the closest to a winner.
The game became very scrappy and a draw seemed to be the most likely outcome until sub Andy Reay went away down the left, to cross for Taylor to fire home from six yards.
It was a cruel blow, but The Villagers have an immediate chance to put things right on Saturday when Walker Central visit Purvis Park for a Northern Alliance premier division game. Kick-off is 2pm.