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Saturday's Premier Division review

By David Watters

The EVO-STIK League Premier season got underway with mixed fortunes for the new teams in the division, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.

Relegated Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic are strong tips to make a rapid return to National League North. While Steve Burr`s new-look Celtic side edged their opening game 1-0 at Bower Fold against another fancied side, Nantwich Town, courtesy of a goal right on half-time from Alex Honeyball, Alty suffered a 3-0 defeat at the J. Davidson Stadium to old rivals Stafford Rangers.

Optimism was high at Alty in front of 811, but was quickly extinguished when Dan Westwood gave Rangers a 10th minute lead. Joe Thomas made it 2-0 just before the break with a goal out of nothing as he volleyed the ball over Tim Deasy from the edge of the box.

And Rangers wrapped up the game seven minutes after the break when Richard Batchelor headed home a corner unchallenged. To make matters worse for Altrincham, Jake Moult missed an 85th minute penalty.

Of the newly-promoted teams, Shaw Lane AFC were expected to challenge after making some impressive signings, but it was Farsley Celtic and Lancaster City who made the headlines on the opening day, while Witton Albion earned a useful away point.

Shaw Lane came unstuck on the 3G at Coles Lane against Sutton Coldfield Town, who ran out 3-1 winners, courtesy of goals from Niall Flint after seven minutes and then Jack McMillan on 78 minutes and Ashley Vincent four minutes from time after Gavin Rothery had reduced the deficit four minutes earlier.

Farsley beat Coalville Town 3-1 at Throstle Nest. And they had to come back from being an 11th minute Lee Cox goal down to win, thanks to former Darlington striker Nathan Cartman after 32 minutes, the ever prolific James Walshaw from the spot five minutes into the second half and again 12 minutes from time.

The Dolly Blues earned a good 2-1 win at Silverlands against Buxton, who got off to a great start when Niall Doran put them in front after just four minutes. Sam Bailey equalised eight minutes before the break and then Ollie Wood won it for the visitors on 68 minutes.

Witton had a great start at a Mickleover Sports side who have made some impressive summer signings. Steven Tames gave the visitors am early second minute lead from the spot. But the Derbyshire side scrambled back into the game with a 57th minute Danny Gordon leveller.

The biggest winners of the day were Grantham Town, who hammered Marine AFC 5-0 at The Meres.

A relatively quiet first half was separated only by Andy Wright`s goal for the Gingerbreads a minute before the half-time drinks. But the home side were rampant in the second period, Lee Shaw bagging a quickfire brace just after the hour-mark and then Wright adding his second on 77 minutes and Jack McMenemy making it a nap hand four minutes from time. It represented Grantham`s best start to any season in their 143-year history.

Workington AFC attracted a crowd of 638 to see them beat Halesowen Town 3-1 at Borough Park.

Jack Ryan gave the Reds a great start with a goal inside two minutes. Scott Allison doubled that just six minutes later and it was 3-0 with only 20 minutes gone through Sam Smith. It settled down after that, and the Yeltz `won` the second half with an own goal from Aaron Taylor eight minutes from time.

Barwell opened up with a 1-0 Kirkby Road win over Whitby Town, thanks to a goal from Ryan Seal 11 minutes from time, while Warrington Town were the day's other winners, seeing off Rushall Olympic 2-0 at Cantilever Park with goals from Connor Hughes after 17 minutes and then from Joe Mwasile right at the end.

Hednesford Town and Ashton United shared a 1-1 draw in the day`s remaining game, Matty Chadwick putting the Robins in front after 27 minutes before a Danny Glover penalty seven minutes later earned the Pitmen a point.

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Where next?

Hackett: Title race is wide open Stourbridge boss Gary Hackett reckons this season's race for the EVO-STIK League's top flight title is wide open.
The best of luck for new season! The EVO-STIK League wishes all its member clubs the very best of luck for a successful 2017-18 season!

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