Three early goals seal win for North Shields Athletic against Percy Main
Percy Main never recovered from going three down in the early exchanges against North Shields Athletic.
The visitors steamed into a 3-0 lead with a combination of quick, fluid attacking play, which left the bamboozled Villagers defence at sixes and sevens.
But Main rallied later in the game, particularly at the beginning of the second half when the Shields defence was tested to the limits.
Like the bulk of the day’s Northern Alliance matches, Main’s Purvis Park pitch was deemed unplayable due to the heavy overnight rain, but the game was switched to Athletic’s 3G surface at John Spence to ensure that it could take place and in the end, it enabled North Shields, the current league leaders to consolidate their place at the top of the table.
In a frenetic start in which the play was encamped in Main’s final third, there were barely five minutes on the clock when Lee Crammond put the hosts in front as he fired home from a shot which had come back off the crossbar as Main’s defence failed to clear their lines.
Worse was to come for the Villagers three minutes later when Shields’ top scorer Scott Jasper was upended on the edge of the area by Marcus McCreedy and Crammond deceived all as he scored direct from the free kick.
It was all North Shields as Rob Rodgerson in the Villagers’ goal saved from Jasper at the expense of a corner, but the brief respite was to prove short lived and when Gary Farrage’s measured flag kick was lofted into the area, Jasper rose unchallenged to head home with not much more than quarter of an hour gone.
It looked to the sizeable crowd watching that Athletic would go on to run up a cricket score, but to their credit, Percy Main rallied and hit back as Ryan McKee was fouled some 20 yards from home and his trademark free kick beat Michael Tatum in the Shields goal to give Main hope.
Those hopes were almost boosted three minutes later as Rob Ridley played a superb through ball for the industrious Jak Morris, who was just about through on goal, but Tatum was alert to avert the danger.
As the first period drew to a close, Crammond and Jasper were off target for Athletic, while at the other end Morris flicked narrowly over the frame of the goal.
But it was the first 20 minutes of the second half in which Main exerted a determined spell of pressure on the hosts’ well marshalled defence, which ultimately and perhaps unluckily went unrewarded.
Percy Main’s Chris Laidlaw released Morris who saw his shot blocked by some timely defending, Stewart Wright twice fired just past the post, left back Rob Watson, who had registered against Northbank last week, was thwarted by the goalkeeper, and Laidlaw’s shot from McKee’s corner was not far from the mark.
At the other end, the ever dangerous Jasper sent a diving header from Anthony Errington’s left wing cross against the post and Rodgerson saved from Crammond.
As the clock ticked down, there was to be no let up in the action and Main’s Ridley was red carded for a perceived elbow and things threatened to boil over, but Athletic were not to be denied and after Karl Burton saw his shot deflected behind, Crammond chipped home his third goal in the 87th minute to complete the scoring.
Percy Main stage another attractive home game this Saturday as they host Seaton Delaval, kick-off at Purvis Park is 2.30pm.