Last-gasp strike sees The Reds go marching on

Inspirational: Woodford United manager Phil Mason
Inspirational: Woodford United manager Phil Mason

WOODFORD closed in on second-placed Arlesey after beating their rivals through a last-gasp winner from frontrunner Ricky Johnson in front of only 87 spectators at Byfield Road.

This latest win after a couple of recent setbacks left the Reds only a point behind Arlesey although champions-elect Hitchin opened up a 16-point lead with their 2-0 home win over Daventry Town.

My attempts to write-off Woodford’s promotion prospects continue to flounder as manager Phil Mason inspired his players to another sterling victory against quality opposition.

The Reds asserted themselves early on with ex-Daventry Town full back Tommy Kinch providing the corner which enabled man-of-the-match Ross Harris to fire in the opening goal after only 15 minutes.

Arlesey equalised just before the interval when Joel Mason’s cross was converted by Harry Hunt with a little help from the crossbar. That looked to be that until Johnson’s later intervention.

The same player did graze the uprights with a 65th-minute header from a deep cross by central defender Chris Jackson but a point apiece still looked to be the likely outcome from an entertaining game.

Johnson had other ideas however. In the 87th minute a pass from Liam Ruddick enabled the striker to sidestep his marker and “bend it like Beckham” past the motionless Arlesey goalkeeper.

Another three points for Woodford, another V for victory sign to yours truly and another three points closer to a coveted play-off place for a Reds side which continues to confound the critics.

Elsewhere Central Division sides Uxbridge and Ashford Town both bowed out of the FA Trophy competition with Uxbridge losing 4-0 to Luton Town even though the big boys made 10 changes to their team.

In the league it was business as usual for all the top teams apart from Arlesey and Daventry Town who dropped back down from eighth to eleventh place after the Hitchin defeat.

Slough, Leighton, Aylesbury, Bedfont and Rugby Town were all victorious at the weekend with Slough’s 4-1 win at Marlow catching the eye after a hat-trick from Danny Burnell.

Two second-half goals gave Aylesbury a 3-1 win at Bedworth while Drew Roberts netted a hat-trick in Leighton Town’s 4-1 home win over Soham Town Rangers.

Rugby Town came from behind to win 2-1 at Beaconsfield and Bedfont Town were similar winners against Burnham.

Atherstone scored the only goal at Barton-le-Clay.