A new era in Saturday football began with kick-off in the new Durham Alliance Combination League.
Several new teams have joined up with clubs from last season’s Durham Alliance League and Wearside Combination League – and seven games opened the new set-up’s inaugural campaign, with 19 teams signed up.
Oddies battled hard to secure an opening-day point, drawing 3-3 at home to Hartlepool Reserves.
In a game of two halves, Oddies were 2-0 up in the first half hour, thanks to a couple of goals from man of the match Michael Bulmer, and but for some fine saves by keeper Graeme Swinbourne, the Wearsiders could have been out of sight.
Bulmer completed his hat-trick in the second half, rounding the keeper to score with ease, but Pool upped the tempo as they chased a way back into the game.
Dom Laffin ran through from midfield to pull one back, then debutant Tom Hickey struck following a good four-man move and Elliott Beddow drilled home an equaliser from the edge of the box on 75 minutes.
Stunned Oddies pushed hard for a winner, and they went close, hitting the post with one effort.
Durham City Reserves showed no mercy to home side Redhouse Last Orders, handing out a 10-1 beating.
Andy Brown opened the scoring early on, then Dominick Hogg finished off a good ball from Jez Allen and Chris Pattison made it 3-0.
Pattison won a penalty, which Craig Mountain converted, then Allen made it five at half-time.
On the restart, 16-year-old Kyle Patton scored his first goal in senior football, and quickly added a second before turning provider for James Huntley to make it 8-0.
Patton completed his hat-trick, following a superb ball from Lewis Edwards, before Redhouse grabbed a deserved consolation, though Allen’s second goal ended the scoring at 10-1.
A young Brandon United Development squad started the season with an emphatic 13-0 win at Washington AFC.
Robson Brown, Ryan Burton, Adam Burnham, Jay Balfour, Jake Williamson and 16-year-old Corey Haslem all notched twice, with Dylan Dowd also on target.
Sherburn Village WMC began in fine style, outgunning newcomers Seaham New Westlea, with Steven Turnbull’s double added to by strikes from Aaron Hinds, Andrew Hope and Graeme Brenkley in a 5-0 home success.
Farringdon Detached went down 5-1 at home to Redcar Town, with Stephen Robertson grabbing their consolation.
Hall Farm shared the spoils with Northumberland outfit Killingworth YPC in a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
Whitburn Village were no match for visitors Bishop Auckland Reserves, who led with a fifth-minute Connor McEvoy strike, direct from a corner.
Jordan Maughan tapped home after an excellent team move, then McEvoy made it 3-0 from the spot. Alex Cantwell’s half-volley extended the lead before Bishops keeper Craig Foster pulled off a stunning one-handed save to preserve his clean sheet.
Shaun Pickford had the last word, producing a mazy run and finishing with a cool, looping shot from 25 yards.
Five teams were not involved on opening day – Sunderland University, Coundon & Leeholme, Wheatley Hill, Wallsend Town and Blackhill and Ebchester.
In midweek, Hall Farm won 9-0 at Seaham New Westlea, Oddies walloped Washington AFC 12-1 and Whitburn Village defeated Redhouse Last Orders 3-1.
Midweek results: Brandon Utd Development 1 Bishop Auckland Reserves 1, Coundon & Leeholme 4 Durham City Reserves 1, Oddies 12 Washington AFC 1, Redcar Town 2 Hartlepool Reserves 2, Seaham New Westlea 0 Hall Farm 9, Sherburn Village WMC 5 Farringdon Detached 0, Wallsend Town 2 Killingworth YPC 6, Whitburn Village 3 Redhouse Last Orders 1