North Greenford United 0
Saints 2 Atkins 43, Carroll 67
Calor League Division One Central (17 August)
A goal in each half and a clean sheet made it a good start to the new season for Saints.
Against a side whose burst of form at the end of last season saw them twice trip up Saints, this was a potential banana skin for Chalfont. Despite an influx of new talent during the pre-season, there were only two new faces on show with Liam Fowler filling the troublesome right back berth while Asen Valchev took on the challenge of replacing Jerome Okimo who has left for the higher pastures.
At the other end, there was an old face in the home goal as Wimbledon legend Dave Beasant answered a call to arms to take his place between the sticks at the age of 54. As proof that class is permanent his distribution from hand was often the most accurate passing shown by the home side on an afternoon that was marred by the blustery conditions, perhaps exacerbated by the new league ball. Too many balls were over hit, witnessed by Saints best early chance on goal coming from a pitch length clearance by Michael Power-Simpson.
Saints had the ball in the net within 10 minutes after Daryl Atkins undid the defence with his speed, his cross found Asen Valchev whose accurate return into the centre picked out Scott Fitzgerald for what looked like a slick header into the corner, only for the offside flag to be raised.
With both sides struggling for their rhythm, Greenford's biggest threat was coming from Lorenzo Ferrari who gave debutant Liam Fowler a thorough examination. Power-Simpson made one fine save but as the break approached it was Chalfont that looked the most likely to take control. Dave Beasant was quickly off his line to block Atkins and was relieved as a defender made a fine block form Daniel Hughes' follow-up effort. Michael Lewis, continuing his fine pre-season form landed a touchline cross on the bar just before the breakthrough finally came on 43 minutes. Daryl Atkins, not for the first time, burst free on the right and his early shot across the keeper found the far corner.
Despite the continuing efforts of Ferrari and increasingly Anthony O'Connor, Greenford were unable to make inroads to the Saints defence that was being driven with his usual mastery by John Carroll. The game's decisive moment came on 67 minutes after Saints were awarded a free kick in midfield. Scott Fitzgerald, who has taken charge at set pieces thusfar, played the ball in low for John Carroll to catch it on the volley to rifle home.
The breathing space this allowed Danny Edwards to have a look at his bench. New boys Leon Osei and Jamie Dowdican added a bit of spice as the home side strived to get back in the game and Bedel Guei, back in the side after a year away form the game, was a welcome addition to midfield in the final minutes.
Successive games against four of the sides new to the division this term plus an FA Cup tie make it a journey into the unknown for the next few weeks for Saints but this was a good start.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Liam Fowler, Asen Valchev, Gareth Paxton, John Carroll, Alan Hedley (Bedel Guei 86), Michael Lewis, Alex Paine, Daryl Atkins, Scott Fitzgerald (Leon Osei 79), Daniel Hughes (Jordan Dowdican 77).
Attendance: 76 Star Player: John Carroll