Percy Park slip into relegation zone with defeat to Stockport

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Percy Park were dealt a last minute body blow by table topping Stockport with an 82nd minute converted try which denied them even a single bonus point, which on the balance of play would have been justly deserved.

The Cheshire side travelled to Preston Avenue with high expectations and a full strength squad, looking for a bonus point win to keep them above Huddersfield.

Park’s injury woes were compounded on Wednesday evening when both skipper Michael Langlands and fly half Todd Harrison were injured during training, but Guy Pike returned to the team, as did veterans James Ponton and Thomas Turnbull.

An early Josh Longmore penalty gave his side a 3-0 lead as Stockport had the early momentum, and his tally was doubled on nine minutes.

A break down the right wing by former Park Colt Joe Cantwell looked to be a certain try but Oscar Pritchard had other ideas and came off the opposite wing, and with a crunching tackle piled the Stockport wing into touch on the five-metre line.

It was Pritchard who again raised the Park spirits with a superb try a few minutes later. Port fullback Mark Edwards cleared his lines, but the ball was run back by Toby Davison finding left wing Olly Walker, who put Pritchard into space.

The young Park wing burst through a couple of tackles and raced for the line stepping inside the covering defender to score under the posts. Toby Davison converted to take Park into the lead 7-6.

The penalty count was mounting against Percy Park and Longmore made the home side pay with another to give his team a 9-7 lead at the interval.

Percy Park were not over-shadowed by their higher league placed opposition and were awarded a couple of penalties early in the second half, but both were again hooked beyond the uprights.

But in a ten minute spell of pressure the home side was eventually rewarded with a try from scrum half George Lewis who darted over the line from a ruck five metres from the Stockport line. Lewis converted his own try.

Everything seemed to be going beyond expectations until referee lost patience and Park were down to 13 players, with Ben Bell being the first to see yellow for an alleged high tackle, being followed soon after by Sean Williamson for not releasing a tackled player.

Stockport used this to their advantage with lock Chris Roddy driving over for a try on 67 minutes which Longmore again converted with ease.

The visitors were back in front as Park pressed to recover the lead, with a penalty being good enough to snatch a vital life-line to stay in National 3 next season.

It was the visitors however who scored right at the death with a rumbling try from a line-out scored by replacement prop Craig Anthony. Longmore appeared to scuff the conversion, but the ball cleared the cross bar with a couple of millimetres to spare and Park were denied even a losing bonus point.

Next week Park travel to Waterloo for their penultimate league game of the season.

With Billingham and Waterloo both winning on Saturday, Park are now in the third relegation place, but Billingham have to play Huddersfield and a rare Park away win at Loo might just be enough for league survival.

Percy Park Pumas play their Northumberland No3 Cup Final next week against Novos II, the venue being McCracken Park, home of Northern FC. The final kicks-off at 2pm.