Hayes & Yeading manager Nas Bashir's first game in charge saw United open the new season with three points at Kingfield against newly promoted Alfreton Town, thanks in part to two first half penalty saves from loanee keeper Steve Arnold.
Nas gave debuts to no fewer than eight of his starting line up and you would have thought they had been playing together for years as the home side took the game to the visitors early on. Just three minutes had passed when United showed their intentions as Ryan Crockford found space on the right and fed the ball to on loan striker Matt McClure who saw his effort go inches wide of the target.
McClure was soon to find himself on the scoresheet though, Louie Soares skipped past a challenge before touching the ball to striker McClure who hit a first time curling shot straight into the top corner of the Alfreton net giving keeper Dan Lowson no chance.
Crockford was again playmaker minutes later when he toed the ball to Pierre Joseph-Dubois but his first time strike was just wide of the target. Just past the quarter hour mark a surge into the United area by Anton Brown saw him appear to be tripped by Mark Bentley and referee Atkin pointed to the spot. Paul Clayton stepped up to the mark only to be denied by United keeper Steve Arnold who guessed correctly and blocked the penalty kick.
The side from Derbyshire continued to search for the equaliser. A long throw into the area was allowed to bounce by the United defence, the final header coming from Brown who forced a diving save from Arnold and then minutes later after struggling to clear the box Connor Franklin latched onto the loose ball and flashed an angled drive wide of the United goal.
On the half hour mark Hayes & Yeading pushed upfield and when the ball was played to Joseph-Dubois he moved to pass the ball inside to Richard Pacquette but it looked like Josh Law was perfectly placed to cut the pass out, however the Alfreton defender only succeeded in tripping himself over and the ball got through to Pacquette who opened his body and coolly slotted the ball into the far corner away from Lowson's despairing dive.
Chances were coming thick and fast at both ends, a corner from the left side was allowed to reach Alfreton striker Chris Senior six yards from goal, his shot being superbly cleared off the line by Diak John to maintain United's two goal advantage. Play almost instantly switched ends with Soares and Joseph-Dubois combining on the right to create an opening for McClure who swept the ball goalwards only for Law to deflect it over his own crossbar.
Five minutes before the break Alfreton had the ball in the United net after Senior sent Clayton down the right and his low centre was slid home by Nathan Jarman, only for a raised offside flag to curtail his celebrations.
Two minutes into stoppage time the visitors were presented with another gift wrapped opportunity when Bentley was adjudged to have pulled a shirt at the near post and another penalty was awarded. This time Law
stepped up and hit his kick firmly in the opposite direction to Clayton earlier, the result however was the same, another fine save from Arnold which maintained United's two goal lead at the break.
The second half was to be no less frenetic as chances came and went for both sides. The first opening came just three minutes into the half when Senior threw himself at a Franklin centre but his diving header just missed the target at the far post.
Jarman then chipped the ball in to Clayton who saw his sharp effort on the turn well grasped by Arnold.
United's first foray forwards in the second half saw McClure pick up the ball on the left before hitting a long crossfield
pass to Pacquette who instantly laid it off into the on-coming Joseph-Dubois but his effort was comfortably dealt with by Lowson.
Around the hour mark saw a flurry of activity in and around the United area, Law's free-kick was met by Greg Young with a glancing header but he was inches wide of the target and minutes later a low whipped cross from the right was cut out by Sam Argent, the loose ball falling to Brown who saw his shot blocked away by Crockford.
The 65th minute saw some respite for the United defence as an angled upfield pass saw McClure get his head to the ball in front of Franklin as he advanced to the Alfreton area before pulling it back towards Pacquette who was denied by the outstretched fingers of Lowson who pushed the ball out of his range.
With just 20 minutes remaining Arnold was finally beaten as a low centre from his namesake Nathan on the right saw substitute Jamie Mullan slide the ball home from close range. Where previous United sides may have gone into a state of panic at this point, Bashir's newly assembled unit went on the attack and regained their two goal advantage just three minutes later. Soares was brought down 25 yards from goal and Crockford stepped up and fired the resultant free-kick past the wall and in off the post.
Even with the final whistle just ten minutes away chances came and went at both ends. McClure dispossessed Franklin and advanced towards goal hitting a drive from 25 yards that swerved wide of the far post while at the other end the ball was chipped forwards to Nathan Arnold who got to the ball before Arnold but his lofted effort was watched wide by skipper Jamie Hand.
The final efforts came from United's Joseph-Dubois and the visitors Arnold but both efforts failed to trouble the respective custodians and an opening day victory was United's.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Steve Arnold.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.