FORMER Valley striker Danico Johnson has been tipped by manager Carl Adams to bring goals back to the team after making a return to Butlin Road.
The 24-year-old was a success in the first-half of the 2018/19 campaign, netting 20 times in 26 appearances before making the move up to step seven side Redditch United in January this year.
Adams hopes the hitman can bring about a change in fortunes at the club, after a mixed start to the season continued with a 1-0 defeat at home to Northampton ON Chenecks last weekend.
“It’s very much a case of one step forward and a couple of steps back for us, and we know we need to be more consistent and build a longer run of victories if we are going to stay in contention.
“Danico did a great job for us last year and we know what an excellent performer he can be at this level.
“He’s had a few clubs already this season, but hopefully he can settle here and get back amongst the goals again.”
The aforementioned clubs that Johnson has turned out for this campaign span from Southern League Premier Division side Alvechurch, with whom he started the season, to Midland Football League Premier Division sides Romulus and Racing Club Warwick.
Valley certainly needed the clinical finishing of their new man in Saturday’s match, which was decided by a Jake Dumbleton strike and leaves Rugby 15 points adrift of leaders Shepshed Dynamo.
Ryan Seal’s free kick and a Charlie Evans header threatened to break the first-half deadlock, with the latter also dragging a shot wide from a promising position.
Matt Hill was beaten by a Lewis Irwin flick down the other end, but fortunately for him the shot also evaded the post, as Northampton provided a reminder of their threat.
Evans went closer after the restart when he picked up Lee Thomas’ through ball before cracking a shot at goal that was batted away by the legs of Chenecks’ stopper Noah Murray-Hawkins.
The decisive moment in the game came as a result of an effort from Irwin which was initially flicked away by Loyiso Recci, but only to Dumbleton who guided the ball home with a first-time effort.
Rugby tried in vain to rescue the game, going close through substitute Fazel Koriya and a long-range volley from James Hancocks, though they lacked the incisiveness required on the day.
Next up for Adams’ side is a home game against bottom side Sleaford, who provide an ideal opponent for Johnson on his expected second debut for the club – given their tally of 51 goals conceded in 12 United Counties League Premier Division games this season.
Sleaford are winless on zero points, a record the Butlin Road faithful will be hopeful of seeing continue come kick off on Saturday (3pm).
Meanwhile, midfielder Lewis Hayden has departed the club after joining former side Walsall Wood.