HINDSFORD got off to a winning start in their quest for a fourth successive Premier League title with a 3-1 victory over newly-promoted neighbours Atherton Town on Saturday.
It proved a happy return to Squires Lane for manager Barry Massey, who spent last season at Salford City and has made the league his top priority.
Ben Meredith put Hindsford in front with a free kick on 25 minutes and after being pegged back to 1-1 just before half time when Nick Eastham equalised from the penalty spot, second-half goals from Scott Weir and Chris Hopwood secured the points.
“We want that four-timer and this was a good way to start,” Massey said.
“The first match is always a shaky one but the performance was good. We started the game well and gelled well which I was delighted with.”
The match proved a wake-up call for Town’s young team, which featured six players under 20.
“It showed us what we need to improve on,” said manager Shaun Lynch. “You don’t get as much time on the ball in this division.
“It could have been different on Saturday. They dominated the first half but they should have been down to 10 men when we equalised. Their keeper brought Gaz Shaw down and the ref gave a penalty but didn’t send the keeper off, which he should have done.
“But we’ll have learned a lot about playing in the higher division. It was a bit of an eye-opener for some of the young lads, especially in the first half, but now we’re all systems go.”
Pennington suffered a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Chadderton Reserves on their return to Division One.
The Atherleigh-based team did not run a senior side last season and, with seven players unavailable, manager Gregg Drake was forced to field six 16-year-olds – three starting, three more on the subs’ bench – in their first fixture.
Nevertheless, they held their own in the first half, trailing just 1-0 at half time, but found the going tough after the interval.
Breightmet United had a miserable start to their Division One campaign when they lost 7-1 at home to Uppermill.
Missing a handful of first-team players, United paid dearly for some dreadful defending in the second half.
Trailing 2-0 at half time to the powerful Oldham side, they were back in the game just after the break when Ben Walmesley pulled a goal back.
But manager Simon Wilcox saw his side contribute largely to their own downfall and were not helped when Adam Lawrence was shown a straight red card.
“If you’d asked me at 2-1 I’d have said we would go on and win it, but then we produced some of the most shambolic defending I’ve ever seen,” Wilcox said.
“Our big problem is a lack of communication between players.”
Leigh Athletic’s home game against Wilmslow Albion was abandoned with the score at 0-0 after 70 minutes when a visiting player suffered a broken leg.