The Northland Premier football season kicked off in fine style with FC Whangarei, Onerahi Cowleys Hire and Central Brown each picking up victories.
FC Whangarei started slowly but proved too strong for Madhatters as an Andy Forbes double led them to a 4-2 win.
FC Whangarei coach Tom Hudson said it wasn't the best of starts but they got the job done in the end.
"We ended up playing pretty well but we started off pretty weak. Madhatters came out gunning early on and scored a goal," he said.
"We got one back before half-time but then we came out from the half strong and got there in the end.
"The guys got a stern talking to at the break, we weren't happy with the play but our fitness shone through in the end," said Hudson.
"Our midfielders Jason Teal and Andy Forbes really stood out for us. Teal played for Northland last season and he went very well. Andy's a new guy to the club and grabbed himself a couple of goals which really helped us."
The second-half surge from the home side helped them secure the vital opening round victory.
But Hudson said work was still needed.
"We need to work on starting off stronger. We've got to get our mindset right from the outset and look to score goals early rather than scoring after 20 minutes or so," he said.
"Our pre-season was really focused on fitness and making sure that's right. Everyone here knows how to play football. We've had the same team for a couple of years now so it's all about getting fitter."
In the other matches Onerahi routed Kamo 6-0 in a highly clinical performance, putting the rest of the grade on notice going forward.
Central Brown pipped Bream Bay United 2-1 while Tikipunga and Kerikeri Bay Builders battled out a 2-2 stalemate.
Meanwhile the Northland FC Women kicked off their Lotto NRFL Women's Premier competition at Morningside Park, going down 6-0 to Norwest United.
Northland found themselves on the back foot early as Jessica Oulaghan scored in just the second minute.
Things got worse in a 14-minute stretch in the middle of the first half.
Norwest United found their rhythm and piled on four goals in quick succession through Nicole Cooper, Catherine Pretty, Cara Lonergan and Oulaghan.
Northland FC went into the break facing a five-goal deficit and despite a vastly improved showing in the second spell, went on to concede a 61st-minute goal to Lonergan.
Northland FC will need to go back to the drawing board before next week's trip to Auckland where they take on Three Kings United.