BLUE SQUARE SOUTH: Hayes & Yeading United 2 AFC Wimbledon 1
If seven successive league wins had failed to convince people that Hayes & Yeading United aim to be serious title challengers this year then their eighth, at home to AFC Wimbledon, certainly will.
The game had something for just about everyone including fine passing and total commitment, not to mention three goals and even a streaker to entertain a record crowd for the new club of 1,526 at Church Road.
United deserved the win, given them by goals from Scotts Josh and Fitzgerald, after leading twice and then withstanding two huge late scares to send Terry Brown away from Church Road with a second defeat from two visits since he walked out eight seasons ago.
Fitzgerald was officially named the man of the match for his tireless work chasing lost causes up front and for not giving Jason Goodliffe, another Hayes legend back on familiar turf, a second's peace, yet quite honestly any of United's players could have claimed that accolade.
A large but friendly crowd might have fazed some players, particularly young ones, yet Garry Haylock has the utmost faith in their temperament and Saturday showed just why.
With Ram Marwa failing a late test on a groin injury United's midfield featured teenagers James Mulley and Esmond James as well as Steven Gregory and Scott, 21 and 23 respectively, playing behind 21-year-old Will Hendry.
Yet never were they overawed despite Wimbledon starting well and United were struggling to get near the ball or keep hold of it early on.
And it was another youngster, Aaron Howe, a 21-year-old keeper who impresses more every game, who came to the rescue with an excellent, sprawling 18th minute save to keep out Tony Finn's far post volley, before United really began to cause any problems.
Two penalty appeals had been ignored by referee Andrew Newell, who had a very good and extremely tolerant game, fortunately for Fitzgerald who produced several challenges which were clumsy at best and reckless at worst, before United took a 20th minute lead.
Gregory's far post corner was missed by Wombles keeper Andy Little, who was distracted by Fitzgerald, and Scott's header beat the defender on the line.
Within three minutes, however, Wimbledon levelled in some style, also from a corner.
Howe came through the crowd to punch clear and the ball dropped 25 yards from goal where Elliott Godfrey hit an absolute howitzer of a shot that screamed into the net.
Former Hayes youth Finn blazed well wide at the end of a dangerous run and Jon Main almost got in as the visitors started to build some momentum only for United to halt them in their tracks.
Fitzgerald mis-hit one good opportunity after Scott robbed Kennedy Adjei to create something out of nothing and as United kept the attack alive Gregory dodged a couple of tackles and delivered a precise low ball that found Fitzgerald sneaking unmarked into the six-yard area to divert home his third goal of the season.
Hendry and Fitzgerald each stung Little's palms as half-time approached,both attempts summing up United's work ethic as they and Scott chased lost causes, while all over the pitch they were highly organised, no more so than in defence where Danny Allen-Page, Tom Cadmore, Matt Ruby and Neil Martin, all did their bit to snuff out the threat of £30,000 strikeforce Main and Danny Kedwell.
United tried to kill the game off soon after the restart as Fitzgerald took advantage of a defender's slip and hit a superb shot that Little juggled before claiming, Allen-Page cleared the bar with his weaker left foot and United should have had a two-on-one chance on the counter attack but Hendry's pass was not what Scott wanted and the fill-in left midfielder's touch let him down.
Fitzgerald gave away a needless free kick, not for the last time as his workrate perhaps began to catch up with him, from which Godfrey's strike was fortunately deflected over the bar off Cad-more, before Brown made a triple substitution, sticking three men up front to try to save the game in the final 15 minutes. It might have paid off immediately as Kedwell's high ball dropped for Main but he scuffed a difficult chance as he broke clear, although aside from two notable exceptions United, who have won their last seven games by a single goal, again showed admirable resilience to hold out in relative comfort.
Hendry might have spared home fans a nervous finish had he taken a touch instead of curling a first time effort over the angle following good work by Gre-gory and Mulley, and United still had work to do.
As the clock ticked into injury time Main was inches away from reaching a deep cross and then Jake Leberl got his head to a corner to send the ball goal-ward until Mulley made a brilliant stop on the line, nodding it onto the under-side of the bar and Howe dived on the loose ball.
United somehow survived another goalmouth scramble to hang on to three hard won points and a perfect record of 24 from the last 24 has now taken them from second bottom right to the top of Blue Square South where they replaced their day's well-backed opponents.