With no less than 15 players on the injury list or unavailable, the value of having a large squad was much in evidence as Percy Main still had more than enough quality to see off Ashington Colliers for the third time this season.
Saturday’s Northern Alliance premier division win followed an identical 4-1 verdict in the corresponding game earlier in the season and a 2-0 Bill Gardner Cup quarter-final win at Hirst Welfare in February.
Main manager Richard Nugent was forced to shuffle the pack as Elliott Mitchell, a recent signing from Cullercoats on transfer deadline day, made an assured debut in the heart of the visitors defence alongside the versatile Adam Green, who has figured with distinction at full back, on the wing and centre forward during recent weeks.
Chris Laidlaw was switched to an unfamiliar right back berth and made sure that the home side were forced to work hard to make any sort of headway down his flank.
One who caught the eye more than most was forward Anth Brown, who made the switch to Purvis Park earlier this season from Longbenton, a player who linked up well with Joe Betts and Stewart Wright and had registered his first goal for the club in spectacular style during last week’s cup win over Gateshead Rutherford.
His energy and non stop endeavour throughout the contest ensured the Ashington defence were kept on their toes throughout, and if ever a performance deserved a goal, then this was surely it.
There was almost an early goal for Percy Main only five minutes in as Green played through a long ball for Brown, but his shot was saved at full length by Mathew Potts in the home goal. Minutes later, Main survived a goalmouth scramble from Ross Gilchrist’s corner.
But the opener arrived on 19 minutes in the visitors‘ favour as Laidlaw floated over a deep cross from the right which sailed over the head of Gilchrist, and the Colliers‘ Andrew Carr, attempting to clear, inadvertently headed the ball into his own net.
If the opener owed a great deal to good fortune, then the second did not as Betts, who had earlier curled an effort just over the angle, linked up with Laidlaw who centred deep once more and Stewart Wright, another who was on target seven days earlier, rose superbly at the back post to double Pthe lead.
The Colliers tried without luck to get back into the game either side of the interval. Adam Baines glanced Lee Scott’s free kick just wide of the far post, while Gilchrist saw his effort cleared on the line by the combined attentions of goalkeeper Rob Rodgerson and his defence, and Adam Baines found the side-netting.
Just before the hour mark Percy Main went three to the good as another Green free kick into the area was met by Ryan McKee who turned and fired a low shot past the dive of Potts.
Main had barely time to celebrate as the home side threw themselves a lifeline. Scott’s shot across the face of goal was headed behind by Ant Ridley, and from the subsequent corner, Michael Simm headed home.
Chances came and went at either end, Betts supplied Brown whose shot was deflected for a corner and McKee tried his luck from long range, but Potts touched behind for a corner.
In reply, Ryan Gair for Ashington saw his shot was saved by the legs of Rodgerson, but Main restored their three-goal cushion on 82 minutes as McKee’s free kick reached Brown, who played in Wright and his shot beat the goalkeeper at the second attempt.
McKee and Laidlaw tested Potts during the closing minutes, but there was to be no further additions to the scoring.
After Wednesday night’s home game against Whitley Bay A, Percy Main will host Wallington at Purvis Park this Saturday, kick-off is 2.30pm.