Nat Jarvis - opening day winner
East Thurrock Utd 0 Hungerford Town 1
HUNGERFORD made the winning National League South debut they wanted when Nat Jarvis’ first half goal won the opening day clash between the two sides promoted via the play-offs last season.
Jarvis struck after 39 minutes, converting after United goalkeeper Lukas Lidakervicius could only parry Garyn Preen’s shot.
Manager Bobby Wilkinson twice had to reshape his defence following injuries to Diak John and Matt Day, but it was a pre-match change to the regular back line that also paid off when on-loan goalkeeper George Legg saved Tom Wraight’s late penalty.
Things had looked like going wrong for Hungerford, whose coach driver went to the wrong ground and then the bus got caught in a road closure caused by an accident, and they did not arrive until 35 minutes before kick-off.
But the team and manager Bobby Wilkinson took it in their stride: “All I wanted to do was get the first point on the board,” he said, “and if we got anything more than a point it would just a be a brilliant, brilliant thing for this football club.
“And I’ll take that, and I didn’t care how it came and what we did to get it. I’m overjoyed because we stepped up again on a difficult ground to come to and for the preparation not being right.
“Everything was thrown at me, but we just stayed calm and kept it together, warmed up a little bit differently and we came it and did what we had to get the first National League points in the history of Hungerford.
“We can enjoy that, but things come thick and fast and now we have to go again.”
Bulpit Lane hosts its first National League South fixture tonight (Monday) when Oxford City are the visitors after they kicked off with a 2-1 home win over Welling United with both goals coming from Liam Enver-Marum.
“We understand how difficult things will be,” said Wilkinson, “and what’s ahead of us. But our togetherness is what this small club is about and we will seed what we can achieve together and see if we can handle ourselves.”
Diak John is a doubt after hobbling off only 25 minutes into Saturday’s game, and Hungerford are waiting to see if skipper Matt Day shakes off a back strain.
OXFORD CITY are rated as slight favourites for tonight’s game with Bet365 listing them at 11/8 with Hungerford 6/4 and 13/5 as draw.