HAYES & Yeading United failed to make the start they wanted in Blue Square Conference South when they slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Chelmsford City.
Garry Haylock's side was missing several players through injury and suspension and they lacked the guile to open up the Ryman League champions, who grabbed the game's only goal in the 27th minute through Bertie Brayley.
Chelmsford also hit the post and had an effort brilliantly cleared off the line by a sliding Tom Cadmore, while new signing Scott Fitzgerald went closest for United with an early snapshot that skidded a yard wide.
Meanwhile, Harefield United gave new manager Glenn Bellis the perfect result to mark his first game in charge as they swept aside Biggleswade Town.
Liam Hinds opened the scoring with a 30-yarder and after Biggleswade levelled early in the second half, substitute Luke Willis and Danny Buckle wrapped up a 3-1 win.