Would it be a case of as you were atop of the Alliance Premier Division following Saturday’s opening round of matches?
Last season’s champions, Newcastle University, were denied promotion over the summer, that being handed to Birtley Town instead so the Students began as they left off last campaign, in destructive fashion.
Away to FC United of Newcastle the hosts must already be feeling a sense of déjà vu after a demoralising campaign last time around and they faced a Tyneside outfit looking to prove a point as Niza Chilufya opening the scoring after twenty minutes and Olly Walden adding number two just sixty seconds later.
Uni were three up by the break as Daniel Robinson notched his first season ten minutes before the interval and the one-way traffic continued after the restart, Walden added his second of the day ten minutes into the second period before Lee Scott added five, eight minutes later, and still they weren’t done.
Proving as relentless as they were last time around the defending champions added number six with Keith Douglas firing home two minutes after Scott had got his first then Scott added his second as the game ticked into the final ten minutes. There was still time for one more as well, that man Walden completing an opening day hat-trick to complete an 8-0 win five minutes from time.
AFC Killingworth also got off to a goal-laden start to the new season, well Malcolm Morien did anyway. Still wearing the same shooting boots as last season the Killy hit-man struck an opening day five-goal salvo as the hosts hit AFC New Fordley for six without reply, Martin Roper adding the other – and it was 1-0 at the break.
Alliance newcomers, Alnwick Town, relegated from the Northern League at the end of last season, opened with a 4-1 win on the road at North Shields Athletic as Brad McClelland helped himself to three goals, two of which arrived in the opening eleven minutes, Maddison also scoring early in the second half; Wyres notched a consolation for the hosts three minutes from time.
Sam Johnson scored twice for Seaton Delaval as they also won 4-1 away from home, they at Wallington whom, although Thomas Truscott found the back of the net, fell to further efforts from Daniel Hindmarsh and Bailey Morton whilst a goal in each half, from John Pendlebury and Sam White, earned Ponteland United all three points at home to Newcastle Chemfica.
Eight goals were netted in the game at Newcastle Blue Star as they defeated visiting Percy Main Amateurs 6-2; Dean Gallagher in the first and Richard Coulson in the second both netting braces for the hosts, Martin Soulsby and Owen Brearton also finding the net whilst Ben Senor and Jonathon Storey replied.
The Gateshead derby went in favour of the hosts, Rutherford, who came from behind to defeat Gateshead A 2-1 as, after Josh Moody opened the scoring late in the first, Robert Jefferson levelled from the spot early in the second before Dan Fuller notched what proved the winner, twenty five minutes from time.
Finally there was five goals at Shankhouse as they fell 3-2 to visitors Whitley Bay A, Bruce with a brace for the hosts whilst Dunn, Bell and Bennett all netted in the second half to steal the win for Bay.
A handful of clubs were promoted at the end of last season following a shake-up during the summer as Blyth Spartans Reserves were joined in the First Division by Bedlington, Prudhoe YC, Blyth Town and Winlaton Vulcans.
It proved to be a baptism of fire in more ways than one as only Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors claimed a home victory, Sam Dibb-Fuller notching the only goal of the game against Seaton Burn whilst Winlaton Vulcans fell to a 2-0 reverse against fellow promoted side, Blyth Town, Chris Laidlaw and Sam Watts.
Blyth Spartans Reserves came from behind to win 3-1 at Felling Magpies who led via an Andy Morley goal in the first half, Ben Sanderson equalising ten minutes after the restart and Tyler Scarth netting a late double for the win and Bedlington won 5-2 away to Gosforth Bohemians as all seven goals arrived in the second period.
Cullercoats top-scored with a 6-0 win away to Newcastle East End whilst Kurtis Harvey and Joe Thompson both collected hat-tricks in their respective clubs’ opening day victories.
Harvey scored three as Hexham won 4-1 away to Hebburn Town U23 whilst Thompson notched all three of Forest Hall’s goals as they won 3-0 at Wallsend Boys Club.
There was also a first half double for Jordon Giles as Red Row Welfare won 4-2 away to Wallsend Community, Dylan Ferries adding a third for the visitors in a productive first half; John Ransome pulled a goal back twenty minutes after the break but Kevin Bell sealed the points three minutes from time, Jay Brown making for a nervy close with the hosts’ second a minute later.
The new boys of the Alliance looked to impress on Saturday afternoon with several new clubs completing the make-up of the Second Division for the forthcoming season – but how did they get on?
Jesmond must take the opening day plaudits for their 4-0 home win over Gateshead Redheugh with two goals coming in each half for the newcomers. Simon Mooney opened the scoring after just five minutes and Alex Cole doubled it ten minutes later, however, they were made to wait for goal number three, Louis Tiplady finally easing the hosts’ tension on the hour before Daniel Brown sent the home fans delirious with number four in the 75th minute for an incredible start to their life in the Alliance.
Stobswood Welfare also claimed an opening day win thanks to goals from Aiden Lynn and Jamie Maughan whilst Ellington lost 3-2 at home to Whitburn, Adam Bains scoring twice in the opening twenty-five minutes, his first from the spot whilst Anthony Chapman notched two for the visitors after Jake Kirkley had kept them in the game, all five goals arriving in the first half hour, and Rothbury fell to a 4-2 loss away to Blyth FC, three players notching braces with Joe Moscrop and Liam Gibson doing so for Blyth and Alex Laviers matching for Rothbury.
Four goals from Martin and two from Williams helped Coundon to an opening day 7-1 win at home to Seghill whilst braces from Niall Jones (Spittal), Robert Dickinson (Wideopen) and Liam Blythe (Whitley Sporting) also featured – Jones scored two as Spittal defeated visitors Cramlington United 5-1 whilst Dickinson and Blyth saw their respective doubles arrive in Whitley Sporting’s 4-3 win at Wideopen.
The remaining match would see the final newcomers to the Alliance, Burradon, fall to a 3-0 defeat at home to Willington Quay Saints.
Thank you to Peter Mann for the round-up this week. To contact Peter, please visit his website.