Atherton Collieries can walk away with many positives following a tough opening-day 2-0 defeat at Whitby Town, with 12 debutants making their maiden voyages at the historic harbour town.

The game was initially slow to find its rhythm, with both teams heading out of the blocks with a more cautious and investigative approach, while gaining a bearing on the opposition.

That, however, changed in an instant as the ever-prolific Brad Fewster opened the scoring for the hosts. A dangerous ball into the box just was not dealt with by the Colls defence as the marksman guided home.

Following the goal, Whitby upped the tempo in a bid to capitalise while the Clarets were slow to regroup, Nico Defreitas-Hansen most notably being called upon to make a low save on the half-hour mark.

The Colls ultimately regained their confidence as the half wore on, Josh Askew and Nathan Caine causing trouble to the Blues defence.

The hard work to regain a foothold was undone in an instant in the early embers of the second half, though, when a throw-in was met with limp resistance, allowing Dan Rowe the simplest of opportunities to head home a second.

Rio Pemberton and Mwiya Malumo entered the fray and soon rejuvenated the Stripes’ forward line, and the Colls were incredibly unfortunate not to at least reduce the deficit in the final half hour of the game.

Pemberton was first to showcase his talents, finding the troublesome Lewis Mansell with a perfect cross, with a great diving header producing an even better save from Whitby’s Shane Bland.

The forward was unlucky not to score himself soon after. Harvey Gregson, who himself offered an impressive debut outing, combined with Jordan Scanlon to tee-up the lively youngster, who caught a sweet half volley which was inches wide.

It was Pemberton again who created the best opportunity of the game in the dying embers. A succulent ball was crossed in for Malumo, who ultimately failed to convert the gift-wrapped opportunity.

Though the cohort of debutants were slow to find their feet in the game, lessons were quickly learnt and the second half offered many reasons to be confident about the new-look Stripes, who ultimately held their own against well-drilled and established opposition.

NPL football returns to the Skuna Stadium tonight, with David Chadwick’s side hosting Bradford (Park Avenue), kick off 7.45pm.

On Saturday, Michael Clegg’s Warrington visit downtown Atherton (3pm).