Percy Main were denied a fifth successive victory following a disappointing performance against a Northbank side who avenged an 8-2 defeat in the corresponding league game at Purvis Park back in October.
Main’s free flowing football of late was not in evidence, although the endeavours of both teams were not helped by a string of questionable refereeing decisions, which saw four of the travelling contingent booked, while Mathew Speedie was shown a second yellow for dissent after the final whistle.
Northbank have yet to return to their Sheepmount base following the winter flooding which devastated their pitch and buildings, therefore the game was played at Carlisle City’s impressive Gillford Park base.
The stadium boasted a superb playing surface despite the recent rainfall.
It was Percy Main’s first of two scheduled visits to the former rugby league ground during March, with a game coming up against City themselves during the Easter period and Richard Nugent’s side will know that they will have to play a lot better if they are to get anything out of that game.
Percy Main made four enforced changes to the side which had beaten Gateshead Rutherford seven days previous.
Ryan McKee, one of those additions, almost made a telling contribution early on as his pass found Joe Betts, whose goal bound effort was saved at full length by veteran Northbank goalkeeper Ian Milburn.
The home side for their part had a couple of speculative efforts which cleared the stand, while James Mobberley in Main’s rearguard made a telling challenge on Ricky James.
Neither side managed to carve out any clear goal scoring opportunities with half chances coming as Graham Allen warmed Milburn’s gloves with an effort from the edge of the area, while the home goalkeeper dealt competently with McKee’s right wing free kick and Betts sent a low shot the wrong side of the post.
As the interval loomed large, the game suddenly burst into life with three goals within the same number of minutes, and two of those were scored from the penalty spot.
Firstly Michael Read for the Cumbrian’s made ground and centred from the right and Rob Rodgerson palmed the ball away, but it fell to Andrew Griffiths who drilled home from just inside the area.
There was barely time to digest the opener before a spot kick was awarded at the other end for a pulling offence and McKee stepped up to draw Percy Main level.
Play quickly swung back to Main’s half and any thoughts of an interval stalemate were quickly banished as another penalty was awarded, this time in Northbank’s favour as Speedie was adjudged to have fouled Jordan Cowley as he closed in on goal. Cowley himself confidently put the hosts back in front.
At the start of the second half, Percy Main forced three early corners which failed to bear fruit, but the warning signs were there as Northbank upped the anti and started to take control with seemingly little resistance from the visitors.
Firstly Dean Armstrong’s shot from the edge of the area was well stopped by Rodgerson, Adam Clarke fired over and Armstrong headed into the hands of the goalkeeper.
Inevitably Northbank increased their lead, and it came on the hour mark as a right wing free kick was headed home by Clarke from close range.
The closest Main came to making any impression on Northbank’s goal came only a minute later as Redmond Cockburn’s shot from distance was kicked from the line, but it was not to be for the visitors as Ricky James, so often Percy Main’s nemesis in recent seasons, was afforded space and time to hook home his side’s fourth of the afternoon.
Percy Main will look to get back to winning ways when they entertain AFC Newbiggin on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.