Percy Main Amateurs progressed to the semi-final stage of the Bill Gardner Trophy with a hard fought extra time win over Northern Alliance second division side Whitburn.
The win on a decidedly chilly afternoon at The Jack Clark Park in South Shields earned them an away tie against Hexham or Lindisfarne in February.
Despite excellent league form, progress in the cup competitions has proved hard to come by for the Villagers this season, following early elimination from the Northumberland Bowl, league and combination cups.
The previous round on November 19 had seen Main account for Wideopen 5-1, but although Whitburn also played their football at a division lower than the Villagers, this was to be no easy run out for the travelling side who needed extra time to finally see off their in-form hosts who had won five of their previous six games, including a 2-0 victory at Swalwell to earn their passage.
The morning’s frost had led to the postponement of 12 of the day’s games under control of the Northern Alliance, which included the Hexham v Lindisfarne tie at Wentworth Park and another in the same competition, while thankfully the pitch, with a pronounced end to end slope and although hard in places, was deemed fit by the match referee.
Main’s previous two games had led to an avalanche of goals at both ends, with the Purvis Park side winning 5-3 and 5-4 against Blyth Isabella and Newcastle Chemfica respectively.
But there was to be no repeat of the goals fest this time around as neither side managed to assert themselves and create too many goal scoring opportunities.
The first half in particular saw neither goalkeeper threatened, with little noteworthy action.
Early on Main’s Dave Surrey attempted to play in Joe Betts, but his run on goal was halted by a great challenge by Kieran Laverick, while Chris Laidlaw for the visitors was just off target from Surrey’s free kick.
Percy Main tried to assert themselves at the beginning of the second half as defender Dwayne Murray, played in by Ant Ridley down the left, brought a save from Glenn Fyvie in the Whitburn goal and Rob Carr headed on Surrey’s free kick for Murray whose shot was deflected behind.
For the home side, Laverick and Jack Fawcett linked up down the left before Fawcett fired off target, while at the other end Fyvie saved bravely at the feet of the on-rushing Joe Betts.
The deadlock was broken in the 70th minute in the Villagers’ favour.
Graham Allen’s corner was met by Carr whose header was deflected for another flag kick to which Allen was given a second bite of the cherry and Dan Sneap headed home through a crowded goalmouth.
Any thoughts that this goal was to prove decisive were banished some six minutes later as Betts conceded a foul cheaply and Andrew Smith’s subsequent deep free kick to the far post was met by centre half Bradley Skinner who headed home.
Adam Bravey twice went close for Whitburn during the closing stages of normal time, but the pendulum swung in Percy Main’s favour once more at the beginning of extra time as Betts deflected shot through a crowd of bodies from another Allen corner restored his side’s lead.
This time there was to be no way back for Whitburn and Percy Main sealed the game on 97 minutes as Reece Dobie’s long kick from goal reached Steve Hart, who played in Sneap and his run and shot at the near post beat Fyve for his side’s third and ultimately decisive goal.
This Saturday Percy Main revert to league action and will travel to take on Wooler, kick-off 2pm.