It is now over 2 months since a ball was last kicked in anger at Percy Main, when we defeated AFC Newbiggin 2-1 towards the end of October, hence the reason for the pitch looking in such good nick at this time of year. Since then we've lost league games at Ponteland United (4-3 and very unluckily) and Newcastle University, (6-2, mainly due to a raft of last minute player unavailability) we've gone out of the Bill Gardner cup at Forest Hall (2-1) and have progressed in the Northumberland Senior Bowl thanks to a similar scoreline at Hexham, which has given us a home semi final draw against Whitley Bay 'A' next month.
We've also seen the full programme of December's fixtures (well, 3 games anyway) wiped out through the wintry elements as the home game against North Shields Athletic and the away fixtures at Killingworth Town and AFC Newbiggin were called off and even last week's planned friendly against Willington Quay Saints on the Valley Gardens 3G was given the red light on the morning of the game, due to ice. Then we had a couple of football free weekends on the 23rd and 30th. So now we have a few games to catch up on, we can only hope that the weather is a bit kinder and we don't have any more casualties.
Onto Saturday's game and it's a belated 'Happy New Year' to all and hopefully we should see some football at last! The Main have added to the squad recently with the signings of Dale Johnson and Jorge Bollado and both will be eligible to play this weekend.
Kick off is 2pm.
Percy Main and Gateshead met at the beginning of the season, when the home side were rock bottom of the table and before their recent revival - see brief write up below.....
Northern Alliance Premier Division
Gateshead FC 'A' 1 Percy Main 4
Michael Butcher was the difference between the sides as he struck a superb hat trick within 17 minutes, either side of half time, (then he was never seen again) demonstrating finishing of the highest order and although he deservedly took the post match plaudits, Percy Main had another man to thank for their victory at the opposite end of the pitch.
Goalkeeper Steven Dewar (another who has sadly only appeared briefly since, but for entirely different reasons) signed during the close season, made his competitive debut for The Main, in the palatial surroundings of Gateshead's International Stadium and put in a highly impressive performance, between the sticks making a string of impressive saves throughout the evening, including one within the first minute which contributed as much to his side's win as Butcher's goals had at the other end.
Ronan Attwood was another to make his first appearance for the visitors and he coped well at left back against the pace and guile of Gateshead's Alex Brutton, as the home side have struggled to match their scintillating form over the past 2 seasons which had seen them win consecutive championships from the Northern Alliance's second and first division's and yet they still showed enough to indicate that given time, they will pull away from the division's lower reaches.
The Main's goal led a charmed life during the early seconds as Gateshead advanced rapidly into The Main area, with a hint of offset perhaps, Dewar saved from Brandon Studholme and Ryan Lay shaved the upright from the loose ball, while at the other end home custodian Iain McLeod did well to tip behind a speculative long range, dipping effort from James Leggett and from Butcher's resultant corner, the ball was deflected into the net. It looked like an own goal from where I was sat, but Jake Forster claimed that it came off his head and he doesn't tell lies.....
Just before the half hour, Dewar saved from Brutton who had advanced menacingly into the area, but Percy Main doubled their lead on 34 minutes as Sam Thompson played in Butcher who finished in style. Gateshead threw themselves a lifeline 5 minutes later and scored with a deflected effort, while at the other end Jonny Storey and Thompson were unable to get the vital touch.
There were those among the Percy followers who would have settled for the 2-1 half time advantage as the final score, but any such thoughts were soon banished 20 seconds after the restart at Storey supplied Butcher who ran on to give McLeod no chance. It gave The Main their 2 goal cushion back, but on 51 minutes things got even better, as great play by Storey released Butcher again and once he had the goal in his sights, there was to be only 1 outcome.
Gateshead forced a string of corners throughout, to which they failed to capitalise, mainly due to some stern defending in the Main rearguard, with the fit again Leggett and Mobberley prominent, Winner Laubu impressed in the home midfield and Dan Hailes went close on 3 occasions during the latter stages for The Heed, but Percy Main almost made it 5 just before the end as Michael Hedley's goalbound effort was acrobatically tipped behind by McLeod.
Percy Main - Steven Dewar, Adam Green, Ronan Attwood, Kieran Tubman, James Mobberley, James Leggett, Jack Pearson, Jake Forster, Sam Thompson, Michael Butcher, Jonny Storey
Subs; Liam Nelson, Michael Hedley, Craig Nichol. Not used - Jack Armstrong, Marcus McCreedy.
Updated 18:35 - 3 Jan 2018 by Norman de Bruin