NORTH Armidale FC was upset by Northern Storm in the opening round of the State Cup on Saturday at Phil Wheaton Oval despite scoring first.
Coach Andy Lennon was obviously disappointed to exit the competition so early, although he could see a bright side to the loss.
“All in all we played quite well and put some well constructed pieces of play together,”Lennon said.
“It is very encouraging for the season ahead.”
North Armidale went in with a plan to stay in the game as long as they could and were controlling possession early in the first half.
Norths showed some good patience and were passing the ball around well, and after 25 minutes that patience paid off.
A neat passage of play saw Willow Greaves find himself with a bit of space in the box.
Greaves slotted the ball into the bottom left corner and the home side were 1-0 up.
The goal gave Norths a skip in their step as the cobwebs for the off-season were shaken off and passes were finding their mark.
“We started to look quite good and the opposition were getting frustrated,” Lennon said.
That frustration led to a red card after an over zealous contest and the visitors were down to 10.
Northern Storm came out after the break a different team and were starting to find their feet.
Ten minutes in they also found the back of the net with a good goal in the top corner and then 10 minutes after that they were awarded a penalty in the box, but could not capitalise missing the goal completely.
The game looked set to be a draw before a drifted Storm cross missed the heads of both teams but collected the far post, before bouncing back to hit the other post and dribble across the line. That was seven minutes before full time, with the coastal team packing their defence and holding on for a win.
“We were pretty gutted to lose like that,” Lennon said.
“We played well enough to win but just didn’t get across the line in the end.”
James Frost at right back was the coach’s pick of the players.
Midfielders Jason Bandy and Nick Griffiths also played well, carrying their good from last season.
Lat year North Armidale went right through the NIF Premier League competition to the major semi, where they were knocked out by Tamworth FC.
FC also kicked off their State Cup campaign in Kempsey on Saturday with a nail-biting win on penalties (4-2) against Port Saints after finishing regular time locked 1-all.