FOOTBALL Mid North Coast had a tough return to the Herald Women's Premier League when beaten 5-0 by powerhouse South Wallsend in the opening round game at the Taree Zone Field.
Coach Mick Grass agreed it was a difficult introduction to the competition for a number of players in his young squad.
South Wallsend were semi-finalists last season and are among the favourites for overall honours this season.
Football Mid North Coast didn't play in first grade last year. The majority of this season's roster hasn't previously played in the elite competition.
"They have some idea now of the fitness level required to play in the premier league,'' Grass said.
"It was also a hot day and that didn't help.''
However, he said FMNC matched it with the visitors for much of the first half.
"Then fatigue set in,'' Grass said.
The score was 2-0 at the break and South Wallsend rammed home the advantage in the second half.
Grass said Emma Shipley was strong for FMNC in the midfield while Sam Bestwick's cover defence at the back was outstanding.
Grass said things won't get any easier next Sunday when FMNC tackles New Lambton, again at the Taree Zone Field.
"New Lambton's probably the co-favourite for this year with South Wallsend,'' Grass explained.
New Lambton opened the season with a solid 4-2 result over Merewether United.
Next Sunday's first grade game starts at 2.30. Football Mid North Coast will play the opening four matches of the season at Taree.
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