NESTON South Wirral returned to league action with an excellent 2-1 win at much improved Formby.
In a game of few clear cut chances, Les McNeight went close for Neston early on when his deflection was well saved by the home keeper.
But he made no mistake midway through the half, when he slotted home from close range after excellent work from the returning Greg Brooker.
Both sides played a patient game, but the only real chance for Formby came when Capper’s drag flick was only parried by Shepherd, and Brooker volleyed clear off the line.
After the break, Formby pushed forward but were repelled by the well-organised visiting defence, and it looked like the game was safe when Pete Glasman’s cross was deflected in by a defender to put Neston 2-0 up.
Complacency appeared to set in though, and Brooker was involved again when he was robbed of possession to allow the home side to breakaway and score with ten minutes left.
As Formby pressed for an equaliser, they were left exposed at the back. In the dying seconds, Jimmy Rigby was guilty of a glaring miss with an open goal at his mercy.
But it was not to prove costly though as the whistle went and Neston went away with the points.
Oxton kicked off the 2009 calendar year with two contrasting victories over Newcastle University.
Saturday was exhibition hockey as the home side hit double figures for the first time in the Northern Premier League, eventually running out 10-2 victors.
The University side actually opened the scoring, but by half time Oxton had stormed into a 5-2 lead.
In the second half, Oxton netted five goals without reply and Ali McKenzie bagged four goals.
On Sunday, Oxton finally made the long journey to Newcastle at the third attempt.
Oxton showed superb grit, determination and character as they ran out 2-1 victors against a much improved Newcastle.
Meanwhile, the ladies first team had a break from league action as they played Wilmslow in the Cheshire Cup.
Jo Girven was amongst the scorers with a superb reverse stick goal as Oxton ran out 3-1 winners.