ALFRETON Town’s big day saw their introduction to the upper echelon of life outside the Football League marred by two penalties being saved.
It was also a tale of missed opportunities and a disputed offside decision as the Reds fell to an opening day defeat away to Hayes.
Alfreton had hoped to take their excellent form of last season and convert it into a routine win against a Hayes & Yeading team that were playing for the first time at their temporary home of Woking FC.
But Alfreton began on the back foot with Matt McClure flashing a 25 yarder inches wide in the third minute.
And just six minutes later the hosts took the lead when defensive hesitation was punished by McClure, who hammed a Louie Soares pass inside his right-hand post from 12 yards.
A rash challenge on Anton Brown by Mark Bentley produced the first spot-kick award in the 17th minute,
But Paul Clayton’s penalty was saved low to Arnold’s left with a degree of simplicity,
Hayes went 2-0 up after 30 minutes when Law unfortunately slipped as he tried to cut out Joseph-Dubois’ pass and Richard Pacquette was suddenly left with an unmissable chance from 12 yards.
Alfreton tried to fight back and Young’s header was tipped over from a 33rd minute right-wing corner, with Chris Senior then seeing his shot cleared off the line by Diak John.
A neat move down the left involved McClure, Pacquette and Soares before Theo Streete’s timely interception, but five minutes before half-time the best move of the game ended with Nathan Jarman’s ‘goal’ being ruled out for off-side.
Senior’s cross-field pass allowed Nathan Arnold to advance to the edge of the area before returning the compliment, with Senior then sending Clayton neatly to the by-line, only for the flag to be raised as Jarman poked the ball in at the far post.
The referee pointed to the spot for a second time in first-half added time, with Bentley again the perpetrator by impeding Clayton from Senior’s quickly taken throw, but Law this time saw his well-taken penalty saved high to his right by keeper Arnold.
Alfreton emerged from the interval discussions in a determined mood, with Senior’s diving header just wide from Franklin’s cross and Clayton’s sharp angled drive held by Arnold from a Jarman pass.
However, a clear chance fell to Joseph-Dubois on 55 minutes, which fortunately for the Reds was fired straight at Lowson.
Lowson had to stretch to palm away Pacquette’s shot from a McClure cross in the 65th minute, but five minutes later Alfreton were at last rewarded with Jamie Mullan turning in Arnold’s cross from six yards to register their inaugural Blue Square Bet Premier goal.
Raised spirits were dampened again though by the 73rd minute when Ryan Crockford curled a free-kick in off the post to give Hayes a 3-1 victory.
ALFRETON: Lowson; Law, Franklin, Streete, Young, M.Wilson, Brown, Clayton (Hall 85), Senior (Moult 66), Arnold, Jarman (Mullan 56). Subs not used: Hawes, Mackin.