Newcastle University 3 Percy Main 1
While there may have been justifiable cause for pessimism in the Percy Main camp, prior to an away game in Prudhoe against the in form league leaders who were averaging 5 goals a game, their top scorer had knocked in more than our whole team this season, they'd only conceded 7 goals, while we had shipped 13 from our last Premier division sorties and tea time traffic and work had combined to rule out one or two who might've normally made the starting X1, despite the loss it was a fairly upbeat visitors who enjoyed the post match chilli in the bar.
Doubtless, a slick, fit and well organised Newcastle University side, who prior to last night's game had won their last 8, have got to be the best side in the division, even at this early juncture, were worthy winners, perhaps by a greater margin and certainly on possession and chances alone, but it was a good, battling defensive display by The Main who fought hard and didn't give up.
With the score goalless at the interval, The Main were rocked by 3 second half goals within 12 minutes by the Uni, which effectively sealed the contest, but it was good to see Joe Rowan back in action and he put in a useful shift as an early substitute for the unfortunate Jack Armstrong and deserved his late consolation goal.
Armstrong, Percy's only 'ever present' this season limped from the action with barely 10 minutes on the clock, by which time the lively Lefteris Alambritis, for the home side had already posted a couple of efforts at our goal, which were both dealt with by the alert Shaun Backhouse. Mind, he mustn't have been that alert on his way to Kimberley Park as he'd got lost somewhere......
The Uni had further attempts at the Percy goal as Olly Walden, who has scored 1 or 2 himself this season twice shot just the wrong side of the upright and Conrad Zylko struck the woodwork, while at the other end there were appeals for a penalty as Mark McDonnell's free kick into the area, might've been handled, no it wasn't said the man in the middle and the last action of the half saw Rowan fire into the hands of Iain Macleod from the edge of the area.
The start of the second half continued in the same vein as the Uni pressed, Lee Scott fired across the face of the goal and Alambritis had the ball in the net, but his effort was ruled out for offside. Incredibly, Percy Main almost took the lead on 56 minutes, as Rowan found McDonnell and his well placed chip over the head of McLeod looked a certain goal, bit for a brilliant last ditch kick from the line by a home defender.
As if to rub salt in the wounds, a minute later Newcastle Uni were in front, as a right wing corner by that old warhorse Keith Douglas, was headed home by Scott. The ominous figure of Niza Chilufya, top scorer in the Alliance Premier division, entered the fray on the hour from the home bench and it wouldn't take him long to make his mark.
On 66 minutes, Backhouse made the save of the game, with a brilliant, diving reflex effort as he somehow palmed behind Zylko's shot, which was destined for the top corner, no doubt about it. But when your luck is out, Douglas took the resultant flag kick from the opposite corner this time and Ben McCarthy rose highest to power the ball home for number 2 of the night.
Only 3 minutes later, the Uni went further ahead and it was great play by Walden down the right, who squared perfectly for the lurking Chilufya, who headed home at the back post. In the latter stages, The Main endeavoured gamely and Macleod had to race from his goal to kick clear from the feet of Ronan Attwood, but that elusive away goal duly arrived on 87 minutes as substitute Suuaibu Nkuriza, who had signed just a couple of days ago, centred from the left and Rowan finished emphatically.
AFC New Fordley at home on Saturday.......