Percy Main ground out a hard fought win in an entertaining game at Purvis Park against Shankhouse.
There were an abundance of chances at either end, but ultimately and deservedly the points went the way of the home side.
Incredibly, and mainly due to the winter’s inclement weather, this was Main’s first home league game since their 1-1 draw against Red House Farm back on October 31, and what was effectively the start of the second part of the season.
A mainly dry week had given way to incessant rain during the hours preceding the game, which subsequently produced a heavy and tiring pitch which sapped tired legs, but both sides deserved credit for their endeavours in adapting to the conditions.
Shankhouse currently find themselves propping up the Northern Alliance premier division table, yet asked questions of Main’s defence, particularly during the second half and showed that they too have the wherewithal to pull clear of the lower reaches of the table, should they perform consistently during the latter parts of the season.
Percy Main’s Sam Thompson took his tally to five goals from the last three games following his hat-trick in the 7-0 demolition of Swalwell seven days previous, thanks to his well taken 18th minute penalty, and with a bit of luck may have added to his account, while Dan Sneap, last season’s top scorer, scored his side’s second before being forced to limp from the action having sustained a 56th minute hamstring injury.
Home goalkeeper Danny Nimmins, who had little to do a week ago, found himself busier this time around and displayed some assured handling, having impressed those watching by giving a confident display as he has done so often when called upon this season.
But he was powerless to prevent the visitors’ counter, which came courtesy of the head of Scott Lowery just before the hour mark.
Main dominated the early exchanges as James Mobberley headed Ryan McKee’s free kick over the bar, Redmond Cockburn fired just past the post and Thompson went close.
But the home forward atoned in the 18th minute with a well taken penalty which gave Shankhouse and former Main goalkeeper Bobby Joyce no chance to give the home side the lead.
The visitors tried to hit back immediately as Lowery sent a glancing header just wide and Nimmins punched clear from Kevin Westphal’s free kick.
McKee for the Villagers saw his effort kicked from the line and at the other end John Wilson headed over, but Percy Main doubled their lead on 37 minutes as McKee’s corner was half cleared by the home defence to the edge of the area and was volleyed home through a crowded goalmouth by Sneap.
As the half drew to a close, Nimmins drew applause as he saved well from the head of Jack Betts, but not long after the restart, Shankhouse threw themselves a lifeline as Westphal, a former player of the year for Percy Main, who had taken all his side’s dead ball kicks during the game, floated over a perfectly measured free kick for Lowery to rise and head powerfully home.
Chances came and went at both ends, McKee was most creative in Main’s midfield, he released the hard-working Chris Laidlaw whose run and low cross from the right just evaded the on-rushing Thompson.
Thompson then broke down the left, out-paced the visitors’ defence and his stinging drive was palmed behind for a corner by Joyce.
Main had to be alert at the other end though and were indebted to Rob Watson’s hook clear as Lowery threatened once more.
The closing stages saw Cockburn bring a save from the visitors’ custodian, while Joyce reacted well to Joe Betts’ shot on the turn and Thompson had what looked like a justifiable penalty appeal turned down.
Percy Main will face Walker Central away next week, kick-off at Monkchester Road is 2pm.