Cullercoats make winning start to Northern Alliance season

Cullercoats opened their Northern League campaign by beating Felling Magpies in a seven-goal thriller with player-coach Chris Jewels powering in a header from a Jamie McClen corner for the winner.

Cullercoats have gone through a pre-season of substantial change and rebuilding of their squad, but a competitive run of warm-up fixtures has given the team lot of optimism, outplaying a lot of higher league teams.

However, the reality of life in division one nearly came home to bite them in their opening fixture.

Cullercoats started the in the ascendancy and striker Alex Benjamin put them in front.

But the visitors failed to clear a corner and Felling equalised from close range.

As Felling were using the momentum from their goal, Cullercoats broke quickly and forced a corner, which was met by Chris Jewels in a challenge with the Felling keeper, which saw the ball fall to Paul Foster and he forced it over the line.

Felling levelled again early in the second half when a shot assisted by the wind from 40 yards out caught keeper Phil Robinson off his line .

With 30 minutes remaining Felling went in front for the first time in the game with a header from six yards out.

Going behind sprang Cullercoats into life, and a through ball found Michael Starkie who slipped the it beyond the keeper for the equaliser.

Benjamin then had a header cleared off the line before hitting the post and the crossbar, all within five minutes.

But in the 75th minute, a pin-point corner found a rising Jewels and he powered his header into the net for Cullercoats to lead 4-3.

The jubilant scenes for were soon quelled as within a minute of the restart Felling were awarded a penalty. However, Robinson produced a fine save to keep Cullercoats in front.

Cullercoats entertain Gateshead Reserves on Wednesday night, kick-off at 6.15pm.