Knaresborough Town made their Northern Counties East League Division One debut on Saturday, earning a respectable 1-1 draw at home to Eccleshill United.
The Manse Lane outfit were awarded NCEL status earlier this summer, and the former West Yorkshire League club now boasts a brand-spanking new clubhouse, floodlights and proper turnstiles.
It all looks fantastic, and their first fixture drew a decent crowd to see Brian Davey’s troops take on Bradford-based Eccleshill United in scorching sunshine.
The nucleus of last year’s squad remains the same, but has been complimented by the acquisitions of ex-Boroughbridge men Paul Eagling and Dan Clayton, adding some punch upfront and on the wing.
Ex-Leeds United man Seb Carole remains in midfield, having joined the club at the end of last season.
They made a great start.
After just four minutes, Knaresborough were a goal up as their visitors struggled to get into the contest.
Eagling had already caught the Eccleshill defence napping in only the second minute, and 120 seconds later he punished them further.
After charging deep into the visitors’ territory, winger Byron Littlefair cut round defender Jermaine Stringer, and a deft pass allowed Eagling to loop the ball over ‘keeper Jamie Abbott’s head, who had strayed off his line and paid the penalty.
For the next 20 minutes Knaresborough bossed proceedings and had plenty of opportunity to extend their advantage.
An Eccleshill hand-ball handed Seb Carole a free kick, and defender Matt Ovenden was in space to head home but nodded over the bar.
Midfielder Ben Parkes and Eagling then combined well to carve out a chance for Carole, blasted wide.
Eccleshill’s first decent opportunity arrived on the half-hour. Winger Adam Bower skimmed Jack Rushworth’s crossbar with a 20-yard shot, but Knaresborough were unfazed and went straight down the other end.
A mazy run by Clayton saw him square to Parkes for a shot, but then Carole went even closer when he picked out striker Steve Bromley with a perfectly weighted cross, but Bromley was just a half-second too slow to react.
As Knaresborough continued to seek goal number two, Eccleshill hit back.
A minute before half-time, right back Ashley Atkinson knocked the ball out after nullifying the challenge from left back Ben Snee.
Unfortunately from the throw-in into the box, striker Andy Howland nodded on for partner Lee Hill to head past Rushworth.
And they nearly made it 2-1 but for the lightening reactions of Atkinson, who saved on the line from another Hill attempt.
Eccleshill continued to apply the same pressure after the break, winning a free kick just outside the 18-yard box after Boro’ skipper Paul Stansfield’s tackle on Hill. Fortunately, Charlie Flaherty blasted it wide.
And Knaresborough were just lucky Eccleshill were so profligate with their scoring chances.
But gradually the hosts forced their way back and could have been at least two goals in front but for a bit of new-season rusty-ness.
A great sequence between Parkes, Eagling and Carole set up Stansfield for an 18-yard drive at Abbott, and his powerful centre took a deflection before bouncing off the crossbar and out.
Bromley then fired over after being teed up by Eagling, and Carole was millimetres out with a shot which crept just right of the posts and then a second after Eagling turned provider.
A foul on Carole by Josh McLean earned the right back a yellow card but a great chance for Knaresborough, although Clayton’s superb free kick hit the crossbar and out to safety.
With about five minutes to go, Clayton found himself in space with only Abbott to beat.
He could have easily outfoxed the diminutive ‘keeper but chose to past to Parkes who booted over the bar.
Eccleshill failed to find any late goals and the points were rightly shared between the sides.
Meantime, two goals by Danny Stimpson and a Chib Chilaka strike saw Harrogate Town win their friendly at Bishop Auckland 3-2.
TADCASTER ALBION powered back from a one-nil deficit to beat hosts Bridlington Town 2-1 in the NCEL Premier.
Knaresborough Town: Jack Rushworth, Ashley Atkinson, Dave Thomas, Matthew Ovenden, Paul Stansfield, Ben Parkes, Dan Clayton, Seb Carole, Paul Eagling, Steve Bromley, Byron Littlefair; Subs Matt Thompson, Jason Harding, Matt Donnelly, Dave Burniston; James Stratton.
Eccleshill United: Jamie Abbott, Josh McLean, Ben Snee, Matthew Moon, Ben Lamb, Jermain Stringer, Charlie Flaherty, Joe Penn, Andy Howland, Lee Hill, Adam Bower; Subs Michael Banner; Danihyl Zahir, Ian Barker