FOLLOWING their narrow 1-0 League Challenge Cup exit at Harraby’s Gillford Park ground a fortnight ago, Percy Main once again came unstuck against their determined Cumbrian hosts on a damp and miserable afternoon in which the home team knocked in three second half goals to take the points.
Typical pre-Christmas weather had seen a dramatic drop in temperature, with a stiff breeze and sporadic rain showers throughout the afternoon.
But the excellent playing surface held up well to the rigours of 90 minutes of cut and thrust football and Harraby, with Mathew Read in particular, took full advantage to advance into the top half of the Northern Alliance premier division table.
Percy Main manager Gareth Allen was forced into a late reshuffle as goalkeeper Rob Rodgerson was ruled out due to injury and Adam Baker came into the side for his first outing since August, while Luc Coiffait, Tom McGuiness, Tijan Kah and Paul Blakey, who had performed well in the earlier meeting between the sides, declared their unavailability.
But the travelling side was bolstered by the midweek re-signing of Shaun Wilkinson from Morpeth, who showed his pace and trickery down the right flank.
Baker was not given time to adjust and found himself called into action during the opening minutes, preserving the stalemate with a couple of impressive saves from Dan Balmer, while Read headed a Peter Ferris flag kick just wide of the upright as Harraby looked to assert themselves and take an early advantage.
The Main goal was definitely the busier as Balmer twisting and turning in the area fired into the side netting from an acute angle and Ferris showed his intentions by firing low across the goalmouth and rattled the frame of Baker’s goal minutes later.
The Villagers came more into the game as the half wore on as hard working forwards Tony Ablady and Kevin Westphal tested the home defence’s resolve, while Wilkinson’s searing pace proved dangerous down the flank.
With the game goalless at the break and looking anybody’s to win, it was Harraby who struck only 30 seconds after the restart when a flag kick by Ferris was slotted home by Balmer through a crowded goalmouth.
Looking to restore parity, good play by Ryan Laws released Abladey whose neat lay off found Westphal, but his fizzing shot from just outside the area just cleared the home crossbar, while Andrew Casson in the home goal had react quickly to clear from the feet of Abladey as the forward homed in on goal.
Harraby’s Darren Addison saw his effort from the edge of the area competently held by Baker, but The Cumbrians doubled their lead on 64 minutes as Ferris burst into the box and squared low for Read to fire home.
Eight minutes from time substitute Guiseppe Amato sealed things for Harraby, with a low cross which was converted by Read for his second of the afternoon.
On Saturday Percy Main travel to Monkchester Road to take on Walker Central in another Northern Alliance league game – kick off is 2pm.