Gunners survive Nambucca strike
SOUTH Grafton Gunners downed Nambucca Strikers 3-1 in the North Coast Football division two catch-up game at Rushforth Park, South Grafton, on Sunday.
It was a case of new combinations for the Gunners with a new look backline, an unfamiliar midfield, completely different forward pairing and a new major sponsor, Walkers Marina Hotel.
With the weather hindering not only game day football, but efforts on the training paddock as well, the chances were the standard of play would be a bit on the scrappy side.
For the first 15 minutes of play Gunners hardly got to touch the ball, and the few times they did, they were much too eager to give it away.
It was somewhat against the run of play when Andrew Laverty latched onto a wide through ball, found a little bit of room from his defender and then picked out Mitchell Rowles with a fine ball. Rowles calmly rounded the 'keeper and slotted the first goal of the Gunners' season and the first in his new role as striker.
The goal had a settling effect on the team and they began to play a more constructive brand of football.
Shortly after Shan Warren made a piercing run down the right side of Nambucca's defence, cut a ball across the goal mouth where Laverty was 'Johnny on the spot' to finish it off for a 2-0 scoreline.
Nambucca's day seemed to go from bad to worse when they had a player sent from the field for an off-the-ball incident, but as is often the case the send-off served to galvanise the visitors and perhaps gave the Gunners a false sense of security.
The Gunners had everything to their advantage in the second half - up two nil, wind at their back, against 10 men - and should have been safe.
However, the Strikers came out and decided to go on the attack, pulling a man out of their back four and pushing forward to great effect.
When one of their central midfielders was allowed to weave his way through some soft defence and place the ball past the Gunners 'keeper, it was really game on.
It became even more of a contest when hard-working Gunners midfielder Nathan Adamson pulled a calf muscle and had to leave the field.
Both sides continued to produce genuine chances, with Warren sealing the victory for Gunners when he strolled forward through the tiring Strikers defence and finished with a goal to not only cap off a fine match, but also kill off any chance Nambucca had of a comeback.
Nambucca were perhaps a tad unlucky not to come away with a point.
Gunners next match is against local rivals Yamba at Rushforth Park this Saturday at 3pm.