After much delay, Farnborough FC finally kicked off the 2013/14 season with a 1-0 win at home to Dover Athletic
There may not have been the likes of Messi, Maradona and Pele to drool over, but the 1,139 fans who took advantage of Farnborough FC's free ticket offer to finally see in the new season on Saturday were certainly handed a treat.
Forced to sit out the opening five games of the new Skrill South campaign while hard-nosed Conference chiefs scrutinised the club's new ownership, it is true to say there were many at the newly-named Paddy Power Park who questioned whether Saturday's match would actually arrive.
But after fulfilling a list of conditions to secure their membership - including the reversal of the decision for players and coaches to change their names by deed poll to that of famous footballers - Boro were finally given the green light to get their season under way.
To celebrate their new-found freedom, the club let everyone in for free for their grand opening against Dover Athletic on Saturday - and the bumper crowd that came through the gate were treated to an entertaining and hard-fought affair.
A 79th-minute winner from Dave Tarpey – soon after having a penalty well saved by Dover's Mitchell Walker - ultimately handed Boro the points from a match they just about shaded.
They were, however, made to work for the points with Dover left to rue no fewer than three disallowed efforts for offside and the sending-off of defender Michael Kamara for a professional foul on Tarpey.
Relieved Boro boss Spencer Day said: “It was a huge day for the club. At one stage we were minutes away from potentially being liquidated again, so to see the best part of 1,200 turn up with 36 hours' notice was the real shot in the arm that this club needed.
“It was a really tough game between two strong sides. We knew the tiredness would kick in as the game went on, Dover got stronger, and you just think to yourself 'is it going to happen for us', so it was such a relief at the final whistle.”
Perhaps it was Dover's garish all-pink strip which blinded referee Derek Eaton into chalking off Sean Raggett's 58th-minute header for offside following Ashley Carew's free kick, although, in truth, Elliott Charles' first-half effort from close range was far more clear cut.
Despite tiring, however, Boro thought they had the breakthrough on 69 minutes when Kamara clipped the heels of Tarpey in the box – earning him a straight red card – but the Boro striker's effort from the spot was brilliantly turned away by an out-stretched Walker.
Tarpey, however, was not to be denied and stole victory 11 minutes from time, running onto Dan Bennett's low centre 10 yards out to fire home.
Boro's match deficit will be down to four on Wednesday night when they make the trip to Havant & Waterlooville (ko 7.45pm).
Farnborough (4-2-3-1): Scriven, Huggins, Treacher (Koo-Boothe 80), James-Lewis (Connolly 76), Bosch, Doyle, Berry (Bennett 66), Laidler, Tarpey, Hammond, Donnelly. Subs: Sinclair-Smith, Hope.