With all this NUFC takeover hysteria, there's only one place I want to watch my football; Purvis Park. Happy to be back sampling the best hot dogs in the world and writing home match reports for the website and the programme. Sadly, results haven't been too encouraging so far -:
Newcastle Blue Star: Lost 2-0; Saturday 2nd October
The rain fell incessantly from a slate coloured sky. The wind was bitter and unforgiving. Winter coats and wooly hats had their first public airing. There could be no mistake; autumn had arrived at Purvis Park with a menacing, vengeful intent. Newcastle Blue Star provided as unforgiving a set of opponents as the challenging elements, dismissing Percy Main from the Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl at the first stage.
Expectations had been high in the week leading up to this game against visitors who can boast quality players throughout their squad, ambitions to join the Northern League and a support that dwarfs most clubs in the Northern Alliance. In the end, hopes of Percy Main setting a new ground record attendance were to be dashed; perhaps it was the awful weather or the bafflingly early 1.30pm kick off for a game that would go straight to penalties if scores were level after 90 minutes, but the actual crowd of 175 was a little disappointing.
In the first half, the Villagers had the benefit of the strong breeze coming off the river behind their backs. It acted as an extra barrier to repel any thoughts of attack by a Blue Star side for whom one time FA Vase winner Michael Dixon stood out like a colossus at the back, repelling most efforts by the home side, resulting in Blue Star’s former North Shields keeper Sean McCafferty being somewhat underemployed. Meanwhile, the Main custodian Reece Monaghan was the stand out performer for the home team, showing faultless handling, impeccable anticipation and accurate distribution, as Percy Main continued to probe, in search of a way of breaching the seemingly impregnable black and white defence. The nearest either side came to a breakthrough in the opening period was visiting number 9 Ethan Bewley running through on the left and sending a shot across goal, but agonisingly wide of the far post, meaning the sides went in at the break with a blank score line.
The strength of the wind was demonstrated almost from the kick off in the second period as Percy Main found it nearly impossible to successfully clear their lines, as the ball was caught by the stiff breeze and returned towards the home goal. Conditions dictated that Newcasle Blue Star were able to up the ante and pin the home side back, with thwarted clearances denying Percy Main any chance to rest and regroup. If Michael Dixon had been the outstanding NBS performer in the opening period, the second half belonged to Reece Havelock-Brown, who relentlessly drove forward and was a constant menace to the Percy Main defence. Firstly, he brought the best out of Monaghan, who was at full stretch to tip a curling effort round the post. The resulting corner saw Blue Star captain Steve Little head over when well placed.
Havelock-Brown again came to the fore shortly after, when a delicious curling effort struck the inside of both posts and bounced clear. Sadly, this incredible escape was not to prompt Percy Main into an attacking renaissance; rather, it merely delayed the inevitable. Havelock-Brown broke the deadlock on 67 minutes with as sweet a volley as you’ll see all season. Profiting from an astute knockdown by Bewley, Havelock-Brown struck a glorious first time effort from outside the box that flew past Monaghan before he had a chance to react. It was a truly special goal and Ethan Bewley’s exquisitely placed looping header from a Zach Bewley cross in the 78th minute was almost its equal.
The second goal effectively sealed the tie and Blue Star were able to play out time against a gallant, but ultimately frustrated Percy Main side who had given their all.
Wallington: Lost 1-2; Saturday 9th October
After being comprehensively outplayed by Newcastle Blue Star when exiting the Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl the week before, Percy Main Amateurs put in a massively improved performance at home to Wallington in a Northern Alliance Premier Division game. Sadly for a Villagers side decimated by injuries and unavailability, the result was the same, as a brace of late headers in the 85th and 93rd minutes by Jack Palmer meant the points were claimed by the men from Oakford Park.
The weather blessed us with a warm, still, pleasant, late summer day, unlike the howling wind and driving rain that had besieged us the week before. As a result of such clement conditions, the standard of play was of a higher standard as well, with the game switching from end to end on an immaculate pitch that had drank deeply and beneficially from the torrential storms of the week just ended.
Wallington carved out the game’s first chance after 4 minutes, when a clearance fell to Kris Willis. His volley had meat behind it, but an out of position Reece Monaghan clutched the ball and danger was averted. On 10 minutes, Wallington’s first corner caused mayhem in the home box, with blocked shots and claims for a penalty aplenty. Thankfully the ball was smuggled away, resulting in Main’s Dylan Taylor attempting to lob Aaron Carr in the Wallington goal. Taylor found the elevation but not the accuracy, as the ball dropped just wide of the far post.
This was only a temporary respite for the visitors as on 22 minutes, when Joe Kelly broke the deadlock. Winning the ball in midfield, he surged down the right wing before cutting inside and burying a glorious finish beyond Carr’s despairing dive. Wallington almost responded immediately when a bout of pinball in the box ended with a contested header bouncing off the bar and going over. One final chance of the half saw the visiting number 9 John Paxton bend an effort just wide of the post, allowing The Main to go in at the break a goal to the good.
Paxton was again at the forefront of Wallington efforts after the resumption, turning sharply and firing an effort that Monaghan saved with his legs. Perhaps the key moment in the game came when Kelly’s surging run down the left saw him create space and fire in an effort that Carr managed to palm away. If tat ad one in, a 2-0 lead for the home team would surely have sealed the win, but Wallington drew belief from this let off. Monaghan again came to The Main’s rescue with an astute tip over on 84 minutes, but it was all to no avail when an unmarked Palmer nodded in at the back post from the resulting corner. Just as the Villagers were coming to terms with that blow, Palmer comprehensively broke home hearts with a deft, cushioned header into the corner. Despite a further three minutes of stoppage time, a visibly shattered Percy side were unable to mount any credible attacks. Instead the lads must regroup and go again next Saturday when Prudhoe YFC visit Purvis Park for a Northern Alliance Premier Division encounter. Kick-off is 2.30.
Prudhoe Youth Club FC Seniors: Lost 0-5; Saturday 16th October
Newly-promoted Prudhoe YCFC Seniors have been on something of a roll recently. Straight from the kick off, it was clear why as the visitors from the Tyne Valley tore into Percy Main from the first whistle. The opening goal on 6 minutes, which saw Kieran Russell stoop to nod in a well-worked short corner routine, was just rewards for the level of dominance Prudhoe had exercised to that point. However, the game settled down after this and both sides enjoyed periods of controlled possession. Indeed, the home side could have equalised on 20 minutes when Dylan Taylor’s delicious cross from the right bypassed the entire Prudhoe defence but eluded the lively Adam Beattie. Unfortunately this came back to bite the Main on 29 minutes, when Luke Banks sprang the Villagers’ offside trap and calmly slotted the ball under the advancing Reece Monaghan.
Prudhoe continued to dominate and Sam Dibb-Fuller, the younger brother of Hebburn’s Ben, so often a thorn in Percy’s side when appearing for Stocksfield, skipped through several challenges and finished with a cushioned effort into the corner. The 3-0 score at half time reflected the quality of play by a determined and skilful Prudhoe side, who didn’t give up after the break. Arron Fletcher thumped a powerful effort off the bar, before turning home a loose ball after Monahan had made a good, diving save from Adam Bell’s shot from distance.
On the hour mark Percy’s Joe Kelly had the home side’s only serious effort of the half, curling a beautiful effort inches wide of the far post. Sadly, the final goal when it came, went the way of the visitors, from the penalty spot. Substitute Craig Fairley was barged over and got up to send Monaghan the wrong way. Well, if a 5-0 home thumping is good enough for Claudio Ranieri, then it’s good enough for Percy Main I suppose.