Percy Main progressed in the Northumberland Senior Benevolent Bowl but were made to dig deep against a Cullercoats side who were determined to make their mark in an absorbing North Tyneside derby.
There was an air of familiarity as the visitors’ management team of Richard Nugent and Danny Nelson were both Cullercoats old boys and Percy Main’s playing squad contained no fewer than eight players who had represented home side in the not too distant past.
Going into the game on the back of a three-match winning run, the Villagers would have been considered pre-match favourites against their Northern Alliance first division opponents, but as often happens in cup games and derby matches, the form book went out of the window, and on reflection Cullercoats could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to exit the competition following a stirring second half performance as a stunning save from 18-year-old Main goalkeeper Danny Nimmins denied the home side’s Aaron Langlands at a critical stage of the game.
Percy Main, three times winners of the prestigious competition, in 1978, 2004 and 2011, made the best possible start and found themselves two to the good within the first 11 minutes, which was in direct contrast to other games this season when the Villagers have proved to be slow starters.
Firstly Chris Laidlaw latched onto James Mobberley’s long free kick and lofted the ball over the head of David Copper in the home goal, and four minutes later Laidlaw turned provider as his right wing centre was met perfectly by the rising Stew Wright who headed home from close range.
Anybody who thought that the visitors were going to run away with things would have been wrong as Cullercoats rallied.
Dan Iredale volleyed off target and Dean McCarthy’s glancing header was dealt with by Nimmins, but the home side hit back tewn minutes from half-time as Chris Connor’s deep free kick was headed home at the far post by Elliot Mitchell.
Main finished the half the stronger and had chances to restore their two-goal cushion as Laidlaw latched onto an errant back pass and attempted to round Cooper, but the Cullercoats goalkeeper managed to scramble the ball to safety.
A minute later, Adam Green, through on goal, was once again thwarted by the home custodian and Joe Betts, lurking at the far post, fired Graham Allen’s right wing corner narrowly wide of the mark.
Percy Main attempted to start the second half like they had the first, Allen saw his shot from the edge of the area charged down and Wright found himself crowded out, while at the other end Nimmins was alert to save from the feet of the on-rushing Iredale.
The visitors defence was tested to the limit as Cullercoats forced a string of corners with Iredale and McCarthy prominent, while Connor shot inches past the post.
But Main’s defence, although hard pressed, held firm.
As tensions rose, the game threatened to boil over at times and one flashpoint saw Mitchell for Cullercoats and Dan Sneap for Main yellow carded, which caused protests among the visiting who questioned whether the referee had correctly identified the perpetrator.
Pushing forward, Percy Main almost wrapped things up in injury time as substitute Sam Thompson brought another save from Cooper, and the goalkeeper earned his corn once more as he foiled Sneap who was first to the rebound.
On Saturday, Percy Main return to league matters and travel to face Gateshead Rutherford, kick- off is 2.30pm, while the club will host a fundraising evening at the adjacent Percy Main Cricket Club on Saturday evening featuring North Shields band The Middens.
Advance tickets are available by contacting 07960 189667 or on the door at £4 each. Doors open at 7pm, all welcome.
Meanwhile Cullercoats travel to table-topping Shilbottle with a 2pm kick-off.