Local soccer side Narrabri FC continued its 2021 Namoi Soccer League preparation on Saturday with a 4-2 victory against Gunnedah FC.

The two sides met in Gunnedah, almost a month after they played their first trial matches of the pre-season respectively at Gately Field in Narrabri back on Sunday, February 28.

Gunnedah won the first meeting 4-1 but was no match on home soil on Saturday despite scoring first in the ninth minute.

The remainder of the match was dominated by the visitors which scored a classy goal to even the match up at 1-all.

On the 15-minute mark, goalkeeper Zaac Brayshaw and centre back partners Nathan Trindall and Adam Pryor showed composure and patience at the back to pass the ball between themselves amid pressure from the Gunnedah attackers. That invited Gunnedah FC to press which Narrabri FC responded to calmly by launching a swift attack which saw Trindall find Cooper Brayshaw in the centre of the park who then broke down the right edge before crossing to his brother Jake Brayshaw who found the bottom right corner with a first-time strike.

Narrabri FC went into the break with a 2-1 lead after winger Brenton Cochrane scored his side’s second of the match late in the half after running onto a Cooper Brayshaw through ball and firing a brilliant curling strike from outside the 18-yard box into the bottom right corner.

About 15 minutes after play restarted, Cochrane doubled his goal tally and his side’s lead with a superb strike. He showed his strength when he dispossessed Gunnedah goalkeeper Andy Cygan down the left edge outside the 18-yard box on the goal line after the shot-stopper left his area to retrieve a Narrabri FC long ball. Cochrane then took two touches to compose himself before curling a strike from the tightest of angles just inside the right post.

With about 15 minutes remaining in the match, Cooper Brayshaw made the score 4-1 from the penalty spot after Jake Brayshaw was fouled inside the 18-yard box when Narrabri looked set to score after outnumbering the home side on the back of a quick counter-attack.

Gunnedah FC eventually pulled one back with a goal against the run of play with about 10 minutes remaining which made the final score 4-2 to the Narrabri men.

Narrabri FC coach Neil Brayshaw told The Courier that he was pleased with his side’s performance and added that there would be more competition for spots in 2021.

“I was pretty happy with the way the boys played,” he said.

“Gunnedah started fast against us but we eased our way into the game.

“I told the boys before the game that I wanted us to focus on playing the ball out from the back and they did a pretty good job, they got better and better as the game went on which was very pleasing.

“Our new guys were awesome again, I’m very pleased with them. They are in key positions too which is handy – Callum (Mcphee) in the
midfield, Adam (Pryor) at centre back and Zac Stait up front.

“What that means is there’ll be more competition for places, so if guys want to play they have to train. I’ve got numbers to pick from in the key positions now which I think will only benefit our club going forward.

“Now all we really need is more commitment.

“We want to win the competition again this year but we know the other sides will be coming at as harder than ever.

“But I think we are in for a big year to be honest.”

Next up for Narrabri FC is the Johnson Cup on Saturday, April 17. The Johnson Cup is a gala day tournament in which teams will be split into pools, with pool numbers to depend on nominations.

The two top-ranked teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals, then the winners of those matches will play off for the championship in the grand final.

“It will be a good experience for us, playing against some different opposition to what we are used to,” Brayshaw said.

“We’ve never been over there to play in that and we’ll be playing against some good teams which we look forward to. I’m keen to see how we go.”

The Namoi Soccer League campaign will then start on Saturday, May 1.

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