F.A. Challenge Cup – Fourth Qualifying Round

Ebbsfleet United – 3
Boreham Wood – 0

by John Mead

Leon McKenzie helped himself to a second red card in seven days, this time a straight for kicking out at an opponent after just twenty-five minutes, which, given the strength of the opposition pretty much put paid to Wood’s chances.

His petulance, which had already manifested itself moments earlier when he again offered a response to a tackle which Referee Mr. Neil saw but chose to ignore, made the decision all the more easier when Fleet Captain Paul Lorraine was the recipient of the retaliatory kick. McKenzie earns a five match ban for his ill discipline which is surely a bridge too far for the Management to bear.

Wood had more than matched the home side prior to the dismissal. Elliott Godfrey shot weakly at Preston Edwards before the outstanding Derek Duncan crossed for Calum Willock who headed just over the bar at the other end. Ashley Carew then caused a real scare for the Wood defence when his cross picked out Ricky Shakes for a free header, who was denied by the crossbar.

The game took on a fractious atmosphere which McKenzie responded to leaving all the week’s preparations in tatters. It did not take Ebbsfleet long to seize the initiative thereafter. A low looping cross from the right by Craig Stone hit several players en route to Lorraine who arrived on the blind side crashing home a low drive across goal. The Assistant Referee signalled an infringement, yet after consultation Mr. Neil allowed the goal to stand, much to the delight of the majority of the 1,005 crowd. Wood were now up against a barrage of attacks. Shakes danced through challenges from Daniel Brathwaite and Joe Benjamin setting up Carew who failed to emulate his Captain’s effort from a similar position.

Willock shot wide for the Fleet before Mario Noto delivered a free kick just wide of Edwards’ right hand post. Ashlee Jones pulled off a magnificent save to deny Shakes from just five yards out before Noto came ever so close to pulling Wood back to parity. A corner was worked back to the Captain whose perfectly struck thirty yard effort was just wide with Edwards well beaten.

All the stoic defending from Wood counted for little when Willock played Shakes through the middle. Brathwaite went missing, allowing The Fleet number ten to fire home past Jones in first half stoppage time.

A two footed tackle from Tom Phipp on Noto just after the restart did little to settle down the atmosphere on the pitch. The final nail in the Wood coffin came after 63 minutes. Willock was allowed to run on goal and he finished well across Jones.

Ian Allinson tried to force things in attack whilst trying to avoid a rout. Luke Garrard moved out of the back four with first Benjamin and then his replacement Fola Onibuje partnering Godfrey up front.

Justin Cochrane continued to cement things together in the centre of the park for Wood, yet Jones had to be on top form to produce a two handed save to prevent Substitute Gareth Williams’ fierce drive bursting the net. The nature of the defeat left Wood Manager Ian Allinson, “Pretty depressed. A moment of ill discipline has let the side and the Supporters down today. We have taken a few steps forward over recent weeks yet this was a massive step backwards. A lot of those players out there wanted desperately to feature in the next Round. We knew we were up against a very good side, the best we have faced so far this Season. The second goal killed it for us and left me with a big job picking up the players for the second half. The problem I seem to face is that we let a lot of players go who would die for this Club. They were deemed not good enough at this level. Apparently that special level of desire went with them.”

Team: Jones, Garrard, Brathwaite, Moran, Kersey, Noto, Cochrane, Godfrey, McKenzie, King (Sub – Morgan 54 mins.), Benjamin (Sub – Onibuje 69 mins.).

Subs (Not used): Hunter, Kirby, Lewis.

Goals: Ebbsfleet United: Lorraine 27, Shakes 45+2, Willock 63.

Bookings: Moran, Garrard. Sent off: McKenzie 25. Man of the Match: Justin Cochrane.