Potters Bar Town left it late against Herne Bay as the Scholars sealed an opening day victory over the newly-promoted side. It was a well contested game in sweltering hot conditions, but the hosts dominated possession for much of the match, leading them to a deserved win in the end.

Herne Bay had looked to make a fast start as the ball fell to Kymani Thomas, but his effort was straight at the keeper. Both sides had an attacking mindset in the opening minutes, but neither could find a clear cut chance.

Kieron Campbell did well down the left hand side, but the Bay winger saw his cross hit the side netting before it was Potters Bar’s opportunity to come forward; a cross came into Joseph Boachie, but the forward wasn’t able to control it before Tyler Christian-Law’s shot was blocked from the edge of the box. A minute or so later, another cross was delivered into the Herne Bay box, but Mohammed Karama’s head was just wide. Despite Herne Bay seeing a head of their own going just wide, it was the hosts who tried to get a foothold in the game.

The Scholars came close to opening the scoring as Quentin Monville broke through the visiting defence, but the forwards effort was saved and cleared before another chance came a minute later, with Dejon Noah Williams looking to squeeze the ball into the far post, but the shot was agonisingly wide. Potters Bar continued to dominate, but couldn’t find the back of the net. A couple of set-pieces were swung into the box, but they were either cleared or sent over the bar. Herne Bay could count themselves lucky they hadn’t gone behind as Jacques Kpohomouh rose highest, but saw his header deflected off the post.

There was no change as the half drew to a close. Herne Bay had a rare opportunity but Marcel Barrington could only fire over before Potters Bar continued to push for the opener. Just before the break, Boachie got beyond the defender, but his effort was fired over.

The hosts got out of the traps the quickest in the second half as the ball was laid off to Corey Parchment, but his effort was wide. The away side had done well to limit the hosts to just possession since the opening shot of the half, but they soon began to put a run of chances together. A cross was delivered into the box, but the Bay keeper was down well to gather before a dangerous free-kick was awarded to the hosts, but Boachie’s effort was fired over.

The first 20 minutes or so of the second half had almost been all Potters Bar, but Herne Bay had the rare opportunity. The visitors looked to come forward to relive the pressure on their defence, but the keeper was there to hold on. Lewis Manor saw his shot blocked as a corner ball fell to him before the Bay almost found the opener against the run of play. Barrington broke forward and fired a shot towards goal, but it was well saved at the near post.

With 20 minutes left to play, Potters Bar were forced into an unlikely change as midfielder Calvin Dickson had to replace the injured Scholars keeper. Despite having an outfield player between the sticks, he remained untested as the hosts continued to dominate. A testing ball came into the box, but it was cleared off the line before a cross was blocked and out for a corner. The resulting set-piece was headed towards goal by Ethan Kaiser, but the defenders effort was just wide.

As the clock ticked down into the final 10 minutes, Herne Bay’s stand-in keeper pulled off an incredible block to keep the scores level as the ball ricocheted off his legs. The away side were defending for their lives as the ball kept coming. A pass was played through by the hosts, but the keeper was out quickly to gather before the game became frantic for both sides. Herne Bay looked to come forward, but a cross was across the face of goal with no one close enough to tap home before the Scholars called for a penalty after Boachie went down, but the referee waved away the shouts.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 88th minute as the ball was played into Lewis Manor, but the forward couldn’t quite get the ball under control before Monville fired home the loose ball. Despite having a late lead, it was the hosts who were on the backfoot in added time as Herne Bay looked to respond. A shot from distance was fired over before the hosts did their best to hold onto the ball, running down the clock. After eight minutes of additional time, the referee brought the affair to an end.