Kick off

The 2011-12 Northern League season saw 98 goals scored in its 19 opening games. In one of the day’s lowest scoring fixtures, defending champions Spennymoor Town were held 1-1 at home by last season’s runners-up Consett, ex-Hartlepool United forward Michael Mackay equalising a Gavin Cogdon goal for the home side. Dunston UTS took a point from Whitley Bay in a 2-2 draw at Hillheads, Andrew Bulford scoring twice for the Gateshead side as they came back from a two-goal deficit at half time. Robinson and Pounder scored for the FA Vase holders in front of a crowd of 516. A goal from last season’s top scorer Alex Benjamin couldn’t stop South Shields slipping to a 4-2 defeat at Bedlington Terriers, with Steven Richardson and former Newcastle United midfielder Tommy English both among the scorers for the home side. Guisborough Town, beaten 4-1 at home by Newcastle Benfield, were the only losers among the three promoted teams, Marske snatching a late 1-0 win at Tow Law Town while Newton Aycliffe thrashed troubled Stokesley 6-1, Ben Wood netting one of the day’s three hat tricks. The remaining two came at Billingham Town, Jarrow Roofing eventually leaving with a 5-4 win. Mattie Moffatt was on the scoresheet once again for West Auckland Town in their 5-1 home win over Penrith. Shildon, like West Auckland strongly fancied to challenge for a top four place, drew 2-2 at Sunderland RCA.  A last-minute goal earned Billingham Synthonia all three points at Bishop Auckland and a late leveller for Norton saw them start their campaign with a 1-1 draw with visitors Ashington, who had ex-Newcastle United reserve Matty Grieve making his debut in defence.

A big opening day crowd of 14 take in Newcastle East End’s 3-0 home defeat to Morpeth Sporting Club in Northern Alliance Division One.

In Division Two, two of the promotion favourites, North Shields and Team Northumbria, had to make do with draws while a third, Esh Winning, beat newcomers Easington 5-3 at home. Hebburn Town left Horden with a 4-1 win while Whickham conceded two in the last ten minutes in their 4-4 draw at Whitehaven Amateurs. Relegated West Allotment opened their campaign with a 1-0 victory at Gillford Park, though Ryton and Crawcrook Albion slipped to a single goal defeat at Darlington RA. The day’s most remarkable game was at Brandon, the home side eventually drawing 5-5 with Northallerton Town.

Into the Wearside League where Kirkbymoorside and Annfield Plain fought out a 1-1 draw in the day’s only league game. In the Sunderland Shipowners’ Cup ties, holders Ryhope CW beat Cleator Moor Celtic 4-1 while there were also wins for Boldon CA, Peterlee Town, Redcar Athletic, Coxhoe, Wolviston, Ashbrooke Belford House and Darlington Cleveland Bridge.

Last season’s Northern Alliance champions Ponteland United began their title defence with a 4-2 home win over Seaton Delaval Amateurs. Their most likely challengers, Carlisle’s Harraby Catholic Club, beat Heaton Stannington 4-1 away. The two sides play each other in midweek in what should be a titanic game at Ponteland Leisure Centre. League newcomers Alston lost 3-1 at home to Seaton Burn in Division Two, though there was better luck for New Fordley, 9-1 winners over Cramlington United.

The next round of games in all three leagues takes place across Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

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