Kettering Town enjoyed a winning start to the new Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central campaign as they claimed a 1-0 success at Hitchin Town.
The Poppies were without striker Aaron O’Connor due to a knee injury and were also missing summer signing Marcus Kelly as they await international clearance after he played for Wrexham last season.
Marcus Law handed league debuts to Declan Towers, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Dion Kelly-Evans while recent signings Michael Shamalo and Andrea Borg both started on the bench.
What proved to be the winning goal came midway through the opening period when Rhys Hoenes got on the end of a ball in from the right and it found its way in despite home goalkeeper Michael Johnson getting a hand to it.
There proved to be little between the sides after that with Josh Bickerstaff having an effort deflected over fo the hosts.
But the Poppies saw things out during a close second half and they could have added to their lead when Borg, on as a substitute, outsprinted Toby Syme but shot straight at Johnson.
Hitchin had a late opportunity when an effort on goal was sliced wide but Kettering held on to make it a winning start.
The Poppies are back in action on Tuesday night when they host King’s Lynn Town in their first home game of the season.