RICKY Johnson has attracted interest from higher league clubs during the close season but stayed loyal to Woodford United when scoring twice in the opening 3-2 win at North Greenford on Saturday.
The striker struck in the 14th and 17th minutes and the Reds stretched their lead still further early in the second-half before a spirited fightback was launched by their North London opponents.
Johnson broke the deadlock by rounding off a swift Woodford counter-attack. Minutes later he also capitalised upon a poor clearance to double the away team’s early advantage.
The writing then looked well and truly on the wall for Greenford when a well-struck free-kick from central defender Chris Jackson flew into the net after only 48 minutes to extend the lead to 3-0.
Even so the home side was not done as a Sean Hillier corner was deflected into the Woodford net before substitute Aaron Samuel headed home from yet another corner to raise Greenford’s hopes of pinching a point.
It was not to be though against a Woodford outfit which is renowned for making quick starts to the season under shrewd manager Phil Mason. Last season the Reds briefly occupied second place in the Central Division table before fading away after Christmas.
Elsewhere the biggest shock was probably Fleet Town’s 1-0 home win over a Biggleswade Town team which is again expected to launch a promotion challenge this season. An injury-time goal from Craig Davis wrapped up all three points.
Rugby Town beat newly-promoted Chertsey Town by a similar margin following a 21st minute goal from ex-Daventry winger Richard Wesley although home goalkeeper Louis Connor was perhaps fortunate to escape a red card on conceding a penalty.
Leighton Town were the other 1-0 winners at AFC Hayes while Aylesbury did well to achieve a goal-less draw against likely title contenders Slough Town at Beaconsfield.
UCL champions St Neots will also surely be a force to be contended with after wiping out a two-goal first half deficit at home to last season’s wooden-spoonists Beaconsfield SYCOB.
Junior Konadu netted twice for the Saints.
Ashford Town were 3-2 winners over Daventry’s Saturday opponents Northwood while there were away wins for Bedfont Town and Bedworth United who beat Chalfont St Peter by a comfortable 3-0 margin.