Percy Main went down to their first away league defeat since the 2-1 reverse at Birtley St Joseph’s back on November 1 when they lost 4-1 at Newcastle University on Saturday.
It was only their third all told in the Northern Alliance first division this season, and on the balance of play could have no complaints at the end result as the Students deservedly took the points.
That said, with the game tied at 1-1 as the half-time whistle sounded and seemingly anybody’s for the taking, there was little to suggest that the home side would run up such a convincing tally against a Percy Main side who had won their last seven.
Main have been in a rich vein of goal scoring form lately, but their attacking prowess, particularly during the second half, was rarely seen, while in contrast the University’s Olly Walker showed the way and hit all four of his side’s goals.
It took Walker’s scoring record to 14 from ten games since joining the side.
Percy Main’s biggest win of the season to date was on September 13 against Newcastle University in the corresponding league game at Purvis Park as the Villagers ran up an 8-1 scoreline, but this time around they faced a very different side whose starting line-up included only two of those who had figured in the earlier game and were determined to make amends.
The home side made the early running as Jordan Cross fired an angled drive into the side netting, and then they took the lead on ten minutes as Cross made ground down the right and saw his shot parried by Reece Dobie and Walker followed up to score.
There was a suspicion of offside as Cross received the ball, but the visitors’ appeals were brushed away by the referee.
The home side’s James Golby fired just past the post and Main’s Graham Allen made a timely challenge on Walker before Cross was forced to leave the field injured.
Percy Main’s first threat came as Davey Surrey found Chris Laidlaw who went close, but a minute later parity was restored as Joe Betts touched on to Allen who this time made a telling contribution at the other end with an exquisite chip over the head of Dan Readman in the University goal.
The Villagers had a let off as Alex Ames miscued when in the clear, while at the other an exchange of passes between Jorge Bollado and Betts saw the former fire just wide. Then Betts’ appeals for a penalty went unheard just before the interval.
The second half undoubtedly belonged to the home side, while Main uncharacteristically rarely posed a threat.
Bryn Tennant fired just wide for the University and Spyros Komadromados, who had earlier replaced Cross, saw his right wing free kick touched behind as he proved a constant threat down the flank.
Further action in the Villagers’ final third saw Pete Mairs head over, while Redmond Cockburn was fortunate to escape without a card following a foul on Komadromados.
But the Students regained the lead on the hour as Thomas Espin and Ames combined down the left to square for Walker who fired home from the edge of the area.
Worse was to follow for Percy Main as Dobie saved a low drive from Walker, but the home centre forward completed his hat-trick on 73 minutes with a great turn and shot which gave the goalkeeper no chance.
The closing stages saw Betts fire just wide for Main and Adam Green worked hard down the right, while in reply Ames rattled the crossbar and Robbie Sweet spurned a good chance.
But Walker completed the scoring three minutes from time to give the Percy Main’s management team plenty to think about before next Saturday’s Bill Gardner Trophy semi-final tie against Lindisfarne. Kick off at The Rising Sun Welfare, Wallsend, is 1.30pm.