CONCORD Rangers produced a stunning performance to run out 3-0 winners against promotion hopefuls Bath City.
On this performance, only one of these two sides will be looking towards the top of the table and even Concord boss Danny Cowley was playing his side’s chances down before the match.
Cowley said he had told the players to treat the game (and the Ebbsfleet United match on Tuesday) as a “free game” as they had failed to take a point off them last season.
But Concord came racing out of the blocks and set the pace in the first half, opening the scoring after six minutes.
Steve Cawley smashed into the roof of the net and, although Bath hit the frame of the goal soon after, Concord were not to be denied and won a penalty after a jinking run from debutant Jordan Chiedozie saw him tripped in the area after half-time. Danny Glozier stepped up to score.
Chiedozie was a menace all match and won another penalty with 15 minutes remaining, this time stepping up to convert himself.
Meanwhile, winger Ben Greenhalgh has left Concord to join Ryman Premier hopefuls Maidstone United.
The 22-year-old was previously with Maidstone in January 2013 and has been in and out of the Beachboys team in pre-season.
He spent last season on loan in Scotland, playing for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Stenhousemuir bit again failed to find first-team football.
Greenhalgh is perhaps best known for winning TV show “Football’s Next Star” when he won a deal with Italian giants Inter Milan.
East Thurrock United were also winners against the odds, beating last year’s play-off finalists AFC Hornchurch 1-0, and the winning goal was a terrific one.
Lewis Smith stepped up to take a free-kick with half an hour gone and although his initial free-kick was blocked, he followed it up with a terrific shot into the far corner.
Former Rocks skipper Ben Wood stepped into the side in the absence of the departed Steve Sheehan and provided a formidable barrier in defence.
Despite considerable pressure, Rocks held out for the win, with new skipper Tom Stephen even able to miss a penalty in the dying moments.
Manager John Coventry said Stephen could have saved him an edgy last few minutes but he was delighted with the win.
“We played really well and won a match we fully deserved to win. We were great all over the pitch and it was great for Ben to step out of semi-retirement to help us out.”
Great Wakering Rovers came close to claiming a point against Ryman North promotion hopefuls Needham Market, in a tricky season opener.
Rovers were put under heavy pressure in the first half and were indebted to Adam Seal for a number of impressive saves. Jay Nash almost gave Rovers a smash-and-grab win but his shot hit the crossbar and Needham went on to score the winning goal with eight minutes remaining.