Percy Main and Newbiggin fought out a highly competitive and entertaining draw which contained more than its fair share of strong tackles by both sides.
And like last week’s game at Northbank, another four Main players found themselves in the referee’s notebook.
Nevertheless, a healthy crowd containing a good number from the visitors saw the home side come back from a 2-0 deficit to gain a deserved share of the spoils.
The sides had met twice previous during the early part of this season, in the Challenge Cup and the corresponding league game, and Newbiggin had won both, so it was perhaps the visitors who went into the game feeling the more confident.
Newbiggin had former Main players Ashley Smyth and Jordan Watson in their ranks and both of those troubled the home side during the game.
Another enforced reshuffle in the Villagers’ side saw 17-year-old Jack Pearson come in for his full debut and Redmond Cockburn figured in an unaccustomed centre half role. Percy Main’s management team need not have worried, though, as both put in an excellent performance for the home side.
The opening period belonged to the visitors and when Smyth was fouled on the edge of the area by Mathew Speedie on eight minutes, there were concerns of the colour of the card, thankfully for the Villagers it was yellow, and Newbiggin’s dead ball specialist Reece Farrell curled the resultant free kick inches past the far post.
But Percy Main’s respite was short lived as Ross Muter advanced down the right and saw his shot palmed away by Main custodian Rob Rodgerson, but minutes later, another free kick in an almost identical spot for the visitors, this time for a foul on Michael Angus, saw Farrell execute a superb finish into the top corner, which Rodgerson was powerless to stop.
Soon after and with barely time to regroup, things got worse for the home side and on 25 minutes Newbiggin doubled their lead as Watson shrugged off the attentions of Cockburn to fire home from just inside the area.
Perhaps earlier in the season Main may have capitulated having gone two down with just over a quarter of the game played, but to their credit they battled back with Rob Ridley outstanding in the midfield and the deficit was halved ten minutes from the interval as Chris Laidlaw’s run and low ball in from the right was deflected into his own net by Chris Phillips under pressure from Stewart Wright.
Visibly galvanised by the goal, Main upped their game as Cockburn’s free kick, headed on by Wright, fell to Joe Betts who was unable to get enough on his shot.
Speedie had an effort tipped to safety by Craig Towart in the Newbiggin goal and Wright blazed over.
With no quarter given and no shortage of effort from any of those on the pitch, Richard Kennedy and Ridley earned themselves a ticking off and a booking following a flare up on the halfway line, which also saw Wright yellow carded for the initial foul.
The second half was only 15 seconds old when Pearson found Laidlaw with a long ball from midfield and he ran on to finish past Towart for his ninth goal of the season to restore parity.
From then on the game was anybody’s as both sides committed to attack, Muter fired across the face of goal for the visitors and Rodgerson had to come off his line smartly to deny the on-rushing Watson, while at the other end, Wright touched on to Rob Watson who shot just the wrong side of the upright and Laidlaw headed over from Betts’ free kick.
As the game drew to its conclusion it was Newbiggin who posed the greater threat and came closest as Farrell’s deep free kick found Watson who headed against the side of the far post, Smyth fired over and substitute Michael Brady twice went close.