Ardley United chairman Norman Stacey is confident the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division side will be able to cope with the loss of top-scorer Ryan Brooks to Didcot Town.
Brooks netted 55 goals for Kevin Brock’s side in all competitions as they finished just two points behind eventual champions Wantage Town last season and has since moved.
He told the club last week that he was mulling over an offer from the Southern League Division 1 South & West club.
“It’s a shame he has gone because we would have had a really good team with him,” said Stacey.
“Myself and Kevin had a text from Ryan saying he had decided to go to Didcot.
“We’re sorry to lose him and would have loved him to stay, but he said he wanted to play at a higher level.”
It was Brooks’s second spell at the club. His last appearance was in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup final against Kidlington on May 1 which ended on five minutes when he was substituted because of a groin injury.
Two seasons ago, he left to join Witney and later signed for North Leigh before returning to Ardley at the start of last season.
Stacey added: “He came back to us because it didn’t work out and he wasn’t getting off the bench, but maybe he thinks he can still play at a higher level.
“Although he has gone, we’ve still got promotion in our sights for next season.
“It’s going to be a battle, with teams like Ascot United, but I’m confident we will be in with a shout come the end of the season.
“How big a blow it is to lose Ryan, only time will tell, but I feel we will find someone to replace him. I have spoken to Kevin and I know he has a couple of targets in mind.”
Ardley host Oxford City on Tuesday, July 29 (3) as part of their pre-season programme.
ARDLEY’S FRIENDLY DATES
July 15: Hook Norton, away (7); July 18: Easington Sports (away, 7); July 22: Stonesfield (home, 3); July 29: Oxford City (home, 3); August 2: North Leigh (home, 3).