Just as 12 months previous, North Shields prevailed by a 1-0 margin to retain the Gary Hull Memorial Trophy as Dan Wilson nodded home Michael McKeown’s right wing corner just past the hour mark in what was the 14th running of the game played out in memory of Percy Main’s former treasurer.
Still as popular as ever, the Friday evening fixture, played for the first time outside its normal Saturday afternoon slot, once again proved a huge success as a crowd of over 300 were present at Main’s neatly appointed Purvis Park ground.
Percy Main’s management team, with eight new signings in the squad, were happy with their side’s showing against a quality side who play their football two divisions higher than the Villagers, despite their failure to unduly trouble Sean McCafferty in the Robins goal.
The side was rotated throughout the contest, as several of last season’s squad and the new additions gelled well to give team manager Richard Nugent one or two welcome selection headaches for the coming weeks.
The Robins, as expected, had the lion’s share of the opportunities and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have won by a slightly greater margin, but they were thwarted throughout by some determined defending by Main’s rearguard and an assured first half goalkeeping display by former Heaton Stannington custodian Shaun Backhouse.
Early on, North Shields’ Dean Holmes impressed down the left and Jack Devlin converted a left wing centre in the third minute, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Not to be outdone, long serving Main goalkeeper Rob Rodgerson, on for Backhouse after the interval, produced the save of the game as he went full length to parry a fierce Devlin drive from just outside the angle, before Wilson hit the decider on 61 minutes.
Percy Main pressed and passed the ball about well, without finding that elusive cutting edge in the final third.
The closest the home side came was when Chris Glass was inches away from getting the final touch only five minutes after Wilson’s strike, and Hilton Hub another of those recent acquisitions, threatened to unlock the visitors defence with a few probing runs down the right.
Percy Main, who start their season on Saturday, August 13, with a home game against Ashington Colliers, play their final warm-up game this Saturday when Northern Alliance first division side Wallsend BC visit Purvis Park for a 2.30pm kick-off.