North Shields Athletic 2 Percy Main 2
By Norman de Bruin
A point gained, or 2 lost?
The proverbial game of 2 halves, due to a strong wind, which saw Percy Main take a deserved 2-0 interval lead only for North Shields to hit back after the break to level matters. Both sides have shown improved form of late, with Athletic pulling out of the Premier division's bottom 2 thanks mainly to a 5 game unbeaten run prior to the game and a close fought game was expected prior to the game.
Goals for Percy Main came thanks to Ant Ridley, his first of the campaign and Paul Collinson who netted his 10th, while Athletic's second half counters came the way of substitute Jonathon Coulthard and Phillip Watson, whose late leveller came off a wicked deflection from Main captain Kieran Tubman.
Teenager Dan Souter who recently made the switch from North Shields to The Main and has impressed no end with a series of tenacious displays in his side's midfield was forced to limp from the action half an hour in and his presence and pace was sorely missed by the visitors side.
The early action saw Collinson test home custodian Ryan Kirtley with only 30 seconds on the clock, but Percy Main's in form forward made his first telling contribution on 9 minutes, following a great run and cross from the right, which was met perfectly for Ridley, who arrived in the area just at the right time to drive the ball home.
Moments later Athletic's Daniel Hunter made a great challenge to thwart Mark McDonnell, but the respite for the home side was short lived and Percy Main's lead was doubled on 18 minutes as a long kick out by goalkeeper Liam Mooney, helped on by Celso Anjos, fell to Collinson who calmly engineered time and space to fire the ball home.
The wind was at Percy Main's backs who found themselves on top as McDonnell and Anjos combined to almost create a third, Collinson twice went close, including an effort which found the roof of the net and McDonnell sent a free kick into the hands of Kirtley.
North Shields best chance of the first half came as Michael Begbie forced a save from Mooney and Tom Crow, first to the rebound saw the visiting custodian produce another diving save at the expense of a corner.
10 minutes after the interval Athletic hit back with their first of the afternoon, with questions asked of The Main's defence as Coulthard and Watson combined in a move which saw the former fire home.
At the other end Collinson volleyed over from McDonnell's free kick and there were loud appeals for a penalty as McDonnell went down under a challenge in the area, but the shouts from the visitors were waved away by the referee.
Athletic grew in confidence and on 73 minutes, Connor Poole's deep cross from the right flank just evaded the on rushing Begbie and minutes later another dangerous Poole centre was headed just the wrong side of the upright by the unmarked Watson. Perhaps inevitably the equaliser arrived as Watson fired goalwards and his shot cannoned off the unfortunate Tubman and past the unsighted Mooney.
There were half chances for both sides during the closing stages, with neither able to apply the killer touch to win the game, but in the end a draw was probably a fairer result on the balance of play over the 90 minutes.
Percy Main face Wallington at home next Saturday, kick off 2:30.....