Eddie Castro-Wade scored a first half double as Port United held off a dogged Kempsey Saints 2-1 at Dixie Park on Saturday.
United’s wasteful finishing combined with Saints’ desperate defence prevented the scoreline blowing out before Dimik Pilbean’s second half strike gave the visitors a lifeline.
United coach Nathan Wade felt his side dominated for most of the contest.
“I wouldn’t say it should have been 10-0, but we probably should have won by a couple more,” he said.
“We were good enough to get two goals in the first half, but then I don’t know if we tried to rush it too much in front of goal in the second half … but their keeper was on fire.
“He kept them in the game and then they were good enough to get a goal and then we held on a bit towards the end.”
Saints coach Kevin Sinclair said his team played better in the second stanza, but left it too late.
“It was a game of two halves; we deserved no less than 2-0 at halftime because we just weren’t up to it,” he said.
“They let outside influences affect them in the first half and in the second half they concentrated on what they could do better.”
Defender Logan Davis was given his first taste of first grade and didn’t look out of place.
“He had a couple of great games in reserve grade and we threw him into the thick of things as a centre back in first grade with about 25 minutes to go,” Sinclair said.
Despite the loss, the coach felt it was another step in the right direction for his young team who will continue to improve.
“With a three-year license in front of us, we certainly hope that over the next year or two we’ll go from a bottom half team to well and truly in the top half of the ladder,” he said.
“We’ve had so many juniors and young sides on the park that it can only help us in the long run.”
In other matches, Macleay Valley Rangers held off a determined Taree Wildcats 3-2, despite the Rangers trailing by two goals at one point, while Port Saints had the bye.