4As lost their fixture against Hertford 3-1 last year,so this was a challenging first match with which to start the season. In the end, after a robust and well-fought match, 4As fell to an agonising 1-0 defeat, which demonstrated the squad are in a good place to take on the season. Everyone worked incredibly hard across the pitch, but Gate just could not breach an experienced defence, backed by a very strong keeper.
There were excellent performances across the pitch. Alastair Whatley and Will Hargrove, making a guest appearance for their old team, were relentless in piling pressure on the Hertford goal, and were ably supported by 4As debutants Nayan Bhundia and Sajiv Saha, who both grew expertly into the game, showing some excellent touches.
Nigel Knight oozed class in midfield and linked the team together well. With two further debutants, Samir Ahmed and Raj Saha, and 4As veteran Simon Holmes interacting well around him, Gate dominated the second half and were unfortunate not to be able to find the equaliser after they were hit by a sucker punch just after half time, when good Hertford link up play took advantage of a sluggish start to the second period.
Still there is hope for the season to come. The defence looked very solid for long periods, which bodes well for the challenges they will face. James Rushton was his usual reliable self at sweeper and linked up well with skipper Jon Huddleston. On the flanks, one final debutant, David James, made a very mature and accomplished debut, and Ollie Costelloe and David Wollfe gave their usual excellent performances, driving the play down the wing.
Man of the match however was Sam Levene, who gave one of his best performances for the 4As. Although rarely called upon, he saved his best for those moments, pulling off two epic saves, one a point blank block from a short and the other a brilliant charge down when one on one. It was an excellent showing. Other votes were shared, with strong preferences for Ollie and Nigel. Moving forward, there are improvements to be made but if the 4As continue to work hard and find a little more penetration, we have much to look forward to.