NORTH Companions took sole leadership of the Northern Inland Football Premier League’s Southern Conference when they produced a late, long-range strike to beat local rivals Oxley Vale Attunga in their local derby at Cross Park, Tamworth on Saturday.
Tamworth FC produced three late strikes to beat a gallant Moree FC 3-1 at Johnson Field, Gipps Street, Tamworth and Gunnedah Hawks hammered Gunnedah United 5-nil in their local derby in Gunnedah.
In the Northern Conference, North Armidale and Demon Knights drew 1-all, South Armidale Scorpions beat East Armidale 4-1 and Inverell’s Joeys FC spanked Guyra 5-nil.
Gunnedah Hawks produced the biggest turnaround of the weekend.
After losing their opening game of the season 5-nil to OVA, they handed Gunnedah United a 5-nil thrashing.
“They out-muscled us, out-enthused us,” United coach Richard Grant said.
“We were cold after last week’s washout and they deserved their win.”
He said his side had a few chances early but didn’t take them and then had Harley Cheetham injured in a bad tackle.
“He came off and went back on but was a passenger for the rest of the game,” Grant said of the midfielder.
North Companions coach Gavin Thompson welcomed his side’s second successive win.
Down 1-nil after Luke Russell’s 16th-minute strike, NC responded with goals from Ben van Aanholt and David Ifield to be 2-1 up at halftime.
Brendan Fergie’s 83rd- minute strike for the Mushies seemed to have consigned the game to a draw but then Will Kam’s long-range goal added a late sting in the tail for the Men In Black.
“It was an even game,” Thompson said.
“A draw probably would have been a fair result.
“We didn’t play our best.
“We took too much time on the ball and let them come out of defence too easily.
“We’ll take the win though.”
Ben Todd was instrumental in his side’s win while OVA’s Chris Fenton “worked his pants off in the middle” and Ben Genardini made a great first grade “debut”.
“It was an interesting game,” OVA coach Tim Coates said.
“A draw would have been a fair result but we’ll play them a few more times yet.
“They are a good side, well coached, and both teams had some players out. We’ve got five to come back in.”
Moree FC suffered from a lack of numbers with just two fresh players for its first grade clash with Tamworth FC.
Tamworth FC had won the second grade game 4-nil but missed the chance to score many more while goalkeeper Ken Wright made some outstanding saves.
Normally a midfielder, Wright played in goals because of a leg injury and then made some great saves in first grade too.
Moree FC stunned Tamworth FC, with Alex Madden scoring from a great double header to give the visitors a 1-nil lead well into the second half.
Moree FC coach Darryl Smith was disappointed with the three late goals but delighted with the way his side played with just a few fresh players.
“We only had 17 players all day,” he said.
“We led 1-nil for about 60 minutes too.
“We had a chance to score a few others in the first half.
“But we knew it was going to be tough and set out to be defensive at the start.
“But Alex scored a great goal before we ran out of legs.”
Chris Hughes had a grand debut for Tamworth FC.
After scoring two goals in the second grade win, he came on for Cameron Potter in the second half and finished off a move started by Travis Beard.
Wright then made a brilliant save to save a point-blank shot from Damien Puyenbroek but the rebound fell to Ben Davis who tucked it away.
Then Hughes scored his second double of the day for a 3-1 win.