Blue Square Bet South

Weston-super-Mare AFC – 2
Boreham Wood – 0

by John Mead

Wood’s first sample of life in the Conference South left a very bitter taste in the mouth on a controversial afternoon in Somerset. The game was turned on its head with the dismissal of Wood’s James Hawes after 56 minutes. The decision to issue a second yellow card to the left back was at the time extremely harsh considering the rashness of some challenges issued by Gulls players in comparison.

Up until that incident there was little to choose between the two sides. Thereafter an awful misunderstanding between Bradley Fraser and Gareth Williams gifted Marcus Duharty an open goal for the Gulls opener after 72 minutes. What followed was a spate of in the box diving from the home side, which went unpunished. Their second goal was again controversial, scored from a penalty earned after Kane Ingram went to ground during a penetrative run into the area. This time it was the turn of the Assistant Referee to spot an infringement when many others inside the ground failed to.

Mr. Newell took centre stage almost from the kick off, holding up play for ridiculously long periods to hold court with various players. Twice inside the opening ten minutes Luke Garrard was taken out by lesser talented players, one of which Jamie Laird earned a caution for. Nerves subsided a little as both teams took an age to settle. Williams had a superb afternoon and was by far the busier of the ‘keepers in the second half. He saved well from Justin Porter who had got in behind Fraser after 33 minutes. A fine run from Mario Noto through the middle allowed him to drop the ball onto the foot of Elliott Godfrey whose rising drive went just wide at the other end.

Ingram and Duharty combined with Williams again equal to the threat as Weston finished the half the stronger. Godfrey again went close for Wood after being skittled over. The resultant free kick was played short and the intelligent Canadian ran in to shoot just wide.

Jamie Price then writhed in theatrical agony to earn the unfortunate Hawes his marching orders, which led to the withdrawal of the out of position Sherwin Stanley for the experience of Ryan Kirby.

Ryan Moran had a goal bound header saved after a superbly directed long free kick from Lee Allinson. Duharty then came as close to breaking the deadlock as anybody hitherto with a fine rising drive across goal from the right after Price played him through. Williams again commanded his area to deal with the threat of Porter on the left. Then followed Fraser’s moment of madness. With Williams sliding out to gather and Fraser seemingly leaving the ball, the young defender stuck out a leg at the last minute which left a loose ball for Duharty to knock home into an unguarded net.

Ben Kirk then brought another fine save from Williams as Wood were pressed into a permanent defensive state. Then followed a spate of quite ridiculous dives in the penalty area, the second of which from Price was an absolute scandal. At this stage the Referee had lost all respect which led to the disgruntled Wood players taking matters into their own hands.

Minutes later Ingram went to ground and another decision went against the Division’s newcomers, with Price sealing the points with a well struck penalty with three minutes of normal time remaining.

It was for Wood Manager Ian Allinson a bitter pill to swallow who in summary commented, “I told the players at half time one mistake could cost us dearly and that was the case. You cannot afford to make mistakes at this level and it is not something we had been guilty of in the run in at the end of last Season. The sending off of James killed the game and the standard of refereeing in this Division is something we had been made aware of. He was on first name terms with their bench, yet made no attempt to afford us the same hospitality.”

Team: Williams, Garrard, Hawes, Noto, Fraser, Moran, Stanley (Sub – Kirby 58 mins.), Godfrey, Blackburne, Allinson (Sub – Hunter 81 mins.), Morgan (Sub – Dadson 81 mins.).

Subs (Not used): Lawal, Baker-Owers.

Bookings: Hawes 32 sent off 56. Fraser. Goals: Weston-super-Mare: Duharty 72, Pepperrall 87 pen. Man of the Match: Gareth Williams.