Nambucca Strikers v Bellingen FC derby day in North Coast Football

THE NAMBUCCA Strikers were looking for a nod as good as a Winx in their senior men's North Coast Football clash with Bellingen this afternoon.

And it started promisingly, as the men's second division side eased to two-nil up against the highly regarded hosts, with Boambee recruit Harley Parker netting both - the latter on the stroke of oranges.

Bellingen FC opened the second half with purpose, and were on the sheet when the Nambucca keeper was drawn out, and the ensuing confusion in the defence saw an own goal as they attempted to clear.

With the result in the balance, Harley - Drogba-like as a lone operator up front - seized an opportunity to net his third for the match to ease the visitors to 3-1.

But the response from Bellingen was immediate, as they brought themselves within a goal of an unlikely draw.

The Strikers lifted again and with time on their side they found themselves the beneficiary of a Bellingen own goal following a breakdown at the back. 4-2 it finished, and one of the best on the pitch for the Strikers was prospect Kai Allan who was rewarded for his effort with a place on the bench for the first division fixture which immediately followed.

In the top grade it was Bellingen who looked a cut above - a clear height advantage across the park, speed and a willingness to move the ball from touchline to touchline which tested Nambucca. The hosts were denied a score by inches, and once by the post - as the combatants somehow found halftime at nil-all.

In the second half, the Strikers refusal to buckle and dragged Bellingen away from their free flowing ways and into the arm wrestle, and frustration was evident on both sides.

A Nambucca side with the Flack boys injury-free and on the park - Ryan at the front and Dan at the back - were never going to die wondering. Travis Hayden copped an early knock, but was also a standout in defence and looked at home in top company.

The crowd of 200-plus loved it - and the entertainment included a poodle field invasion and an incorrigible local with a vuvuzela to urge Bellingen on.

On the pitch, the impasse was finally broken when a clumsy tackle at the back gifted Bellingen a dottie, which they converted to set up the final scoreline of 1-nil.

While the Strikers opened their first round with a crushing 7-1 win at home to Sawtell, their gutsy effort today against a talented Bellingen outfit augurs well for the 2019 campaign.

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