BLUE SQUARE CONFERENCE SOUTH: Hayes & Yeading United 0 Chelmsford City1
Ten months after Hayes & Yeading United handed Chelmsford City as big a thrashing in the FA Cup as a 1-0 win can be, the Clarets reversed that result on the opening day of the Conference South season to show just far how they have come.
United may well have come on too but shorn of the services of Will Hendry, who was completing a suspension from last season, Steve Perkins and Peter Collins, suffering with minor injuries, they showed they will still struggle to compete without key players available.
Ryman champions City were strong and organised but not spectacular, yet United rarely threatened to beat Danny Gay, who did not need to produce anything like the heroics he did in that previous meeting.
Chelmsford struck through Bertie Brayley's 27th minute effort and the hosts never really looked like they would claw it back.
Staforde Palmer and debutant Scott Fitzgerald, preferred to Josh Scott up front, received very little quality service as United failed to get the ball wide in the final third and the pitch, made slick by persistent rain, meant anything too direct simply raced through to Gay.
United started brightly enough, keeping possession but after Fitzgerald fired a snapshot a yard wide City went closer to scoring when in the 18th minute Brayley got away from Tom Cadmore and fed Jon Keeling, whose low effort clipped the outside of the post.
Delroy Preddie beat out a Ricky Holmes volley as Chelmsford began to get on top and a minute later Oliver Berquez received a pass from the right, Nevin Saroya could not cut out his through ball and Brayley found the back of the net despite Preddie's half-block.
James Mulley, filling in on the right of defence, covered across well to block a Holmes effort and Berquez had another decent sight of goal but failed to beat Preddie with a lob, before United finally made Gay work but Fitzgerald's shot on the turn was comfortably held.
Haylock replaced another debutant, Dan Mehmet, who came up through the reserves, at the break and again United started well. Saroya found Palmer who swapped passes with Fitzgerald but Palmer saw his effort skid past the far post, before Cadmore produced a brilliant stop to keep United in the game.
Brayley broke the offside trap and took the ball around Preddie but just as supporters watched for the ball to nestle in the net Cadmore slid in superbly to clear off the line.
A Saroya free kick deflected wide and Palmer created a chance for himself which Gay safely smothered but they were rare moments of promise for a United side lacking inspiration.
Chelmsford had a pretty comfortable afternoon, sitting tight and playing on the break although the introduction of Scott for the final 11 minutes gave United renewed impetus.
After Chelmsford's Chris Moore, whose arrival meant there were three former Northwood strikers on the pitch with Fitzgerald and Kieran Knight, was denied by Preddie's boot, United had two final half chances.
Scott fed Fitzgerald but his drive found only the side netting and when Ram Marwa's 30-yarder was beaten out, so were United.