NEW Hartley Juniors got their 54th consecutive season under way on Saturday with a hard fought 1-0 win over league newcomers Whickham.
Fielding five debutants, Hartley took the lead on 25 minutes with a great finish from ‘old boy’ Brad McClelland after had already gone close twice.
Whickham should have levelled just before the break when their striker rounded the Hartley keeper and somehow shot wide with an open goal in front of him.
The second half saw both sides miss clear cut chances and a superb save by Barnard in the Hartley goal kept Whickham at bay.
In heavy rain, Hartley lost skipper Lewy Davison through injury and striker Dan Taggart was carried of on his debut with a bad injury.
But Hartley hung on to take three points into Wednesday game at home to Bedlington (6.30om kick-off).
Club official John Maley said: “We didn’t know what to expect of Whickham as they are a new team in the league.
“They came with a good reputation and beat league champions Lampton Street 5-1 last week.
“We lost a lot of players in the summer and had five making their debut, as well as all the subs being new signings, but they looked liked they had played together for years.”