Forest Green Rovers won their first nine games last season but came unstuck at the first attempt this year as Boreham Wood beat last season's play-off finalists 1-0 in their National League opener.

This was no backs-to-the-wall job and Wood were thoroughly deserving of maximum points at Meadow Park as they nullified the Green Army effectively while creating a hatful of excellent chances of their own.

In fact, if Wood manager Luke Garrard had any complaints they would have centred around his side’s profligacy in front of goal after Ricky Shakes fired home what proved to be the winner in the 30th minute.

Garrard handed debuts to seven summer signings in Grant Smith, Matt Paine, Mark Rickets, Kenny Davis, Bruno Andrade, Adriano Moke and Angelo Balanta. Joe Devera was preferred to Danny Woodards at left-back, following injury, while Moke was deployed as a number ten behind Balanta.

Anthony Jeffrey, re-signed on loan from Forest Green, couldn’t play against his parent club while Daniel Uchechi was ruled out with a thigh injury.

On the substitutes’ bench there were places for left-back Femi Ilesanmi, signed yesterday following his release by York City, and striker Morgan Ferrier.

Forest Green boss Mark Cooper started with a 3-5-2 system. There were debuts for Ethan Pinnock, Mohamed Chemlal, Drissa Traore, Rhys Murphy and Christian Doidge.

The Green Army controlled possession early on but struggled to make it count. In fact, it was Boreham Wood who posed the greater threat against one of the promotion favourites.

The lively Andrade forced Sam Russell into a good save after eight minutes with a wicked cross-cum-shot from the left.

Summer signing Mohamed Chemlal was Rovers’ biggest threat by some distance and his penchant for cutting in from the right-hand side became evident when Kenny Davis had to stoop and head clear with a number of FGR players lurking.

Rovers went closer still just before the half-hour mark when Elliott Frear fed the ball in from the left for Doidge. But Wood keeper Smith was sharply off his line to block one-v-one.

Two minutes later Wood went in front. Dale Bennett did superbly to get in front of Balanta and block his attempted shot but the ball ran loose for Shakes. The Wood midfielder showed great composure to lash beyond Russell into the top right-hand corner on the run and hand Garrard’s side the lead.

Wood were scarcely troubled for the remainder of the half, though there was a heart-in-mouth moment when Frear directed Chemlal’s cross to the back post over with a side-footed volley.

Garrard’s side very nearly doubled their eight minutes into the second half when Russell was closed down taking a short goal kick.

Ethan Pinnock returned the ball to his keeper who was immediately closed down by Andrade. Now panicking, Russell surrendered the ball but Balanta was unable to take full advantage and his cross was blocked for a corner when it could have resulted in much more.

Forest Green Rovers were gradually growing into the game and asking a few more questions. Yet apart from deflected Darren Carter strike which Smith held with ease, Cooper’s men struggled to turn possession into opportunities.

Davis, who was enjoying an all-action debut in the middle of the park, nearly grabbed a second for Boreham Wood when he turned and thumped the crossbar from inside the penalty area.

Rovers still retained a threat, however, and when Smith hared off his line to meet substitute Matt Tubbs the striker looped a header over the Wood keeper and agonizingly wide.

The hosts responded with a gilt-edged change of their own; Balanta and Moke exchanging a one-two which resulted in the latter seeing his shot saved by Russell after going one-v-one.

A better chance still came and went with a minute to go. Shakes slung in a low cross and Ferrier, at full stretch, poked just wide of the near post with Russell surely beaten.

Boreham Wood held out for a nervy five minutes of added time to record an opening day win against a side who will surely contest automatic promotion this season.

Garrard's side travel to Dover Athletic on Tuesday evening.

Boreham Wood: Smith; Nunn, Stephens (Woodards 87), Paine, Devera; Shakes, Ricketts (c), Davis (Clifford 67), Andrade; Moke; Balanta (Ferrier 75).

Substitutes: Boal (GK), Ilesanmi.

Forest Green Rovers: Russell; Clough, Bennett, Pinnock; Chemlal, Carter (Robert 63), Traore (Racine 70), Sinclair, Frear; Murphy (Tubbs 58), Doidge.

Substitutes: Maxted (GK), Moore.

Referee: Neil Hair.

Attendance: 504.