AFC Dunstable picked up a fine 1-0 win at SSML Premier Division new-boys Broxbourne Borough in their curtain-raiser on Saturday.
The visitors were without Ricky Perks, Josh Humbert and Jason Beck who were all suspended, plus the injured Jonathan Cooper.
AFC did have their record goalscorer BJ Christie back in the ranks, along with Courtney Massay and Dale Turney, while there were debuts for keeper Gary Malone, centre back Terry Griffiths and midfielder Danny Jones.
It was AFC who threatened first as Jones’ strike was superbly saved by the home keeper, who then denied Christie.
Leon Cashman then went close twice, before AFC were ahead as Newman Carney fed brother Brandon on the left wing and his cross was turned home by Jermaine Hall.
In the second period, AFC were reduced to 10 men when Cashman saw red for denying a goalscoring opportunity, but his team-mates coped well for the remainder, although Broxbourne did hit the bar late on.
Manager Steve Heath said: “We had to grind out the result but it would have been a different story if we would have taken our chances in the first half.
“We have had an unbeaten pre-season and the confidence was high, but it just goes to show when you play a competitive game what a difference it can be. We were pretty comfortable as our goalkeeper was not really tested”.
AFC are at home to Biggleswade United tonight.
AFC: Malone, Massay, N Carney, Griffiths, Cashman, B Carney, Jones, Olaleye, Hall, Turney, Christie,
Subs: Bufano, Byron, Griffiths, Ryan, Baird.