It was the first game in the Conference today for the Saints of St Albans City and it was us committing the sin of rolling over and letting the fans down as we slumped to our first opening day loss since losing at home to Dover back in 1999. At the end of the day that loss came to nothing because we only went and won the blinking League title that season.
With eight players making their debuts for us today, including two that had never played with the rest of the side in a competitive game before today, it was always going to be a nervous kind of game from us. Take nothing away from St Albans though, they came out of the traps with ease and passed the ball round cleanly. First to the ball 99% of the time and when they hadn't got the ball they were snapping at our heels trying to get it back.
It took them just under ten minutes to fox the Harriers defence when a poor pass in midfield by Dwaine Lee was intercepted by Adam Wilde who then broke for goal, slipped a great through ball to Paul Hakim who side-footed the ball past the despairing dive of Scott Bevan for their first goal. The eye catching Lee Clarke could have added to that lead soon after but his shot was hurried and Bevan managed to get to it and push it a way to safety.
It didn't matter anyway because a minute later the game was over as a contest for us when the Saints were awarded a corner that was taken by Matty Hann. The ball curved alarmingly in towards the goal, avoiding our defenders on it's way towards the top far corner to be met on the goal line by Dave Theobald to help it over. Was it already over though?
All this time and we weren't getting a look in. Andy White was never up with the play and when he was he wasn't prepared to fight for the ball in the air. His partner Sturridge was on a different wavelength to his team mates but he probably thought he was still at Molineux with the Wolves and not at Aggborough with players not good enough for the Football League.
Jamie McClen was out of position, Michael Blackwood had been let out of the dressing room and Gavin Cowans hadn't even had the chance to shake hands with his team mates.
Five minutes until the half time whistle and we had our first direct chance on target when Lee got onto the end of a corner from McClen to send a header straight for goal but the veteran keeper for St Albans, Paul Bastock, easily grabbed hold of it. Blackwood did likewise with an identical header a minute later and Bastock followed suit with an identical save.
There was still time for St Albans to turn the screw before the whistle did finally blow. Stuart Whitehead clipped the ankles of Paul Hakim on the edge of the area and ref deemed it to be inside the white line. Lee Clarke made no mistake in putting his team three goals to the good.