Woodford not home yet, but future looks bright
PUBLISHED: 16:00 09 August 2019
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We looked ahead to what this season could hold for Woodford Town in our Kick-Off supplement in all our east London titles this week
Woodford Town proved to be one of the surprise packages last season, notching a top-six finish in the Essex Senior League after a strong start.
Dee Safer's young side continued to enhance their reputation of playing attacking, entertaining football which has attracted a large and very vocal following that could help inspire them into even greater heights this time.
But having hoped to have moved into a revamped stadium at Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford, they will start their season at Harlow FC until work is completed.
Even though the Harlow Arena is perfectly suited to their fast flowing football, they produced a sensational record on the road last time out, winning at Walthamstow and Saffron Walden Town, who many tip to feature strongly this season.
Woodford have lost skipper Jack Grosvenor to Stow, but have by and large kept the core of the side that did so well last year, a fact not lost on assistant boss Neil Day, who stressed the need for stability.
He said: "We have managed to keep continuity going both on and off the pitch. I think myself, Dee and Ross (Weare) work very well together and share similar philosophies on the game.
"Jack will be a big miss, but we are about development and there are players out there, hungry and ready to take his place. However some sort of continuity is key at this level and we're delighted so many of last season's squad have decided to commit again."
As noted, Woodford didn't just earn plaudits for winning games during the 2018/19 campaign, it was player development which also caught the eye.
Jaden Thompson-Brissett was one of their leading lights in the first half of last season and it saw the teenager earn a transfer to Brentford B in January.
Before him, Ryley Scott earned a move to Ipswich Town after success with Woods and plenty of others still at the club will hope to follow in their footsteps.
The best way to earn a jump up the football ladder is by playing well and even though Town are still not home, they will look to kick on from last season.
Safer's men finished sixth with 23 wins from 38 games despite not being back in the borough and while that wait goes on, returning there looks to be sooner rather than later.
Woodford are hoping for a big crowd tonight (Friday) when White Ensign visit in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.
Safer has seen his side start the 2019/20 campaign in fantastic fashion, as they did last year. On the opening day of this term at Sawbridgeworth Town, Woods secured an incredible 8-0 victory which sent them top.
Asher Modeste netted five times in the first half to give the visitors a large lead at the break. While the rate of goals slowed in the second half, there was still time for Vlad Sighiartau, Tola Odedoyin and Temi Babalola to get on the scoresheet.
Following a comfortable victory on the opening day, Town found life tougher against Tower Hamlets on Tuesday in their first match back at Harlow Arena this season.
Ricardo Shaw put them ahead with quarter of an hour played and captain Andrea Mantovani doubled the advantage before the half-hour mark.
There was no repeat of the weekend, however, with Hamlets pulling one back before half time and pushing Woodford hard.
In the end, Safer's side had to settle for a 2-1 win, but it keeps up their 100 per cent record in the Essex Senior League and ensures they are top after two games.
The Woods now switch focus to the FA Cup and a clash against White Ensign, who famously got Paul Benson's football career off the ground before he joined Dagenham & Redbridge.
With £2,250 up for grabs in prize money, Town will be desperate to claim a victory which would set up a preliminary round clash at Crawley Green or Takeley.