The opening round of the 2021 Namoi Soccer league season was dominated by Narrabri on Saturday afternoon when both Narrabri FC and Narrabri Elevens scored wins in their respective first grade matches.

At Hogan Oval, Narrabri FC scored a 3-0 home ground win against Wee Waa United FC while the Elevens travelled to Moree where they downed Moree Services FC 1-0.

The Elevens entered the new season without five key players from their 2020 roster which guided the side to last season’s grand final. They were Riley Jenkins, Jacob Nichols and James Albert, who are no longer playing for the club, and Matt Conroy and Brady Jenkins, who were both unavailable.

However, the side still managed to put all of its hard work during pre-season training into practice on Saturday to bring home the three points.

A Bailey Campbell goal midway through the second stanza was the difference. Elevens goalkeeper Jakeb Nipperess sent a long ball up-field which was flicked on in behind the Moree defence. Campbell reacted quickest and ran onto the loose ball before rounding Moree goalkeeper Will Hawker and scoring into an empty net.

At Hogan Oval, hosts Narrabri FC opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when striker Jake Brayshaw pounced on a loose ball after Wee Waa goalkeeper Steve Phelps made a diving save to deny a Cooper Brayshaw strike from outside the 18-yard box. With Phelps down on the ground, Jake Brayshaw knocked the ball over the top of the Wee Waa keeper to make the score 1-0.

The hosts doubled their advantage in the 40th minute when two substitutes made an instant impact.

One of those was winger Rhys Hayne who made a brilliant run down the left edge. He beat two players before passing inside to Cooper Brayshaw who sent a curling cross into the box and the second of the two fresh players, Colby Williams, headed the ball into the bottom right corner with his first touch of the season less than a minute after entering the field.

Narrabri FC took that 2-0 lead into the break then tripled its advantage on the hour-mark when 15-year-old winger Zac Stait scored on his Namoi Soccer League debut. Stait ran onto a loose ball after a Blake Jarrett shot from just outside the 18-yard box bounced back off the post. A diving Phelps was still on the ground and out of position when Stait pounced onto the loose ball and fired it into the bottom right corner.

The score remained 3-0 when the full time whistle sounded.

In the reserve grade game played at Hogan Oval, a Ben Stride goal three minutes before half-time was the difference as Narrabri FC downed Wee Waa United 1-0, while the Elevens went down 10-0 in Moree.

Both Narrabri sides now turn their attention to the first local derby of the season which will be contested on Saturday in round two. The first grade grand final rematch will kick off at 3pm.

Meanwhile, Wee Waa and Moree will both go in search of their first wins of the season when they meet at Cook Oval in Wee Waa on Saturday afternoon.

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