Percy Main 1 Gateshead Rutherford 1
Most of the pre match build up had centred around the swift appointment of new Percy Main team manager Steve Hurd during the days preceding the game, but ultimately it was Steve Hurd junior who rescued a deserved point for the home, with a 77th minute strike which levelled matters at 1-1.
The Main had beaten Rutherford home and away in the Northern Alliance Premier division last season, netting 8 times in the process, but there was to be no repeat this time around, although both sides were probably happy with the draw as the visitors extended their unbeaten run to 6 games and Percy Main arrested their mini slump, which had seen the side lose their last 3 including last weekend's league cup exit at Red Row.
It was a much improved performance from the poor showing 7 days previous from Percy Main, who also had an 89th minute goal chalked off by the referee and it gave Hurd a good indication of the resources that he has at his disposal as he looks to pull the side from the lower reaches of the table.
The early exchanges saw Rutherford start the stronger as Cameron Nichol sent a free kick narrowly wide of the target. Main goalkeeper Craig Byrne had been signed only 2 days previous to the game and after punching clear, he was beaten on 11 minutes as Nichol drilled home the loose ball from just outside the area. There had been a clash of heads, a fraction of a second previous to the goal and Percy Main's James Mobberley was forced to leave the field with a head wound to his ginger napper which needed medical attention, Jack Pearson proved an able deputy.
The Villagers rallied and Jonny Storey and Michael Hedley both had efforts narrowly wide of the target, while at the other end Byrne twice denied Rutherford, firstly with a spectacular save to thwart a looping goal bound effort and then pulled off a point blank save from Nichol who found himself through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Deep into first half stoppage time Rutherford's David Chambers was next to test the new Main goalkeeper, but once again Byrne was equal to his effort.
The start of the second half saw Percy Main check the credentials of Richard Heiniger in the visitors goal as he palmed behind an effort from Storey and from the resultant corner, Hurd was just wide. The action continued in the Rutherford final third as Sam Hodgson made a vital challenge to deny Storey, Sam Thompson's shot was headed behind and James Leggett, up for the flag kick saw his shot kicked from the line.
There was a warning for Percy Main on 73 minutes as Callum Moore had an effort kicked from the line, but play once more switched to the other end and parity was restored as good play by Jack Armstrong won a free kick and the ball, half cleared fell to Hurd on the edge of the area who drilled home through a crowd of bodies.
The goal visibly gave The Main a lift as substitute Stewart Wright fired narrowly over, seconds after coming on, Marcus McCreedy tested Heiniger and Wright was foiled by the Rutherford goalkeeper on 85 minutes. As the clock ticked down, it appeared that Percy Main would pinch all 3 points as Rob Watson's pin point centre from the left flank was bundled home at the far post by Armstrong, but the goal was chalked off for an apparent infringement on Heiniger. There was still time for Leggett to find the side netting from another Watson cross, but that elusive first home win of the season must wait for Percy Main.
Seaton Delaval at home in the Challenge cup next Saturday.....