Blue Square Bet South

Boreham Wood – 3
Dartford – 1

by John Mead

A solid Wood performance heralded their first League victory of the Season. A superb display from Captain, Mario Noto, helped in lifting his side off the bottom of the table in this battle of the promoted sides.

In a tactical move David King made way in the starting line-up for Greg Morgan as Manager Ian Allinson opted to make full use of the wings to create chances for Leon McKenzie and Elliott Godfrey up front. A cagey start saw both teams eyeing each other, with the visitors from Kent looking for their first win on the road. An effervescent Greg Morgan skipped past Adam Gross to cross for Leon McKenzie and Elliott Godfrey whom hunting in a pack were denied by a defender.

Morgan forced a save from Andrew Young at the near post from the corner before Noto fired just wide with the first of many shots he was to expel on the afternoon. Joe Benjamin after swapping flanks with Morgan travelled forward with the ball before setting up Noto for a cracking drive from outside the area which needed a reaction fingertip save from Young, as Wood took hold of the game. Benjamin curled an effort just high and wide, before Ashlee Jones spilled Tom Bonner’s fierce low drive at the other end. Danny Harris nipped in to convert, unfortunately from an offside position. It offered the visitors some respite and they nearly took advantage. A fine delivery from Ryan Hayes out on the left found the head of Charlie Sheringham, yet Jones was equal to the header. A minute later Jones was to make an even more important save as Harris turned Ryan Moran leaving the goal at his mercy. He shot from six yards and somehow Jones stuck out an instinctive leg to pull off a save that was never really on the cards.

Half time came at an opportune moment for Wood and they took advantage taking the lead just 25 seconds after the restart. Morgan drove forward on the right and his measured cross was perfect for McKenzie’s run. Bonner cut out the cross with the defender’s contact sending the ball past his own ‘keeper at the right hand post.

Dartford lacked the spirit that Wood gained from this misdemeanour after Sheringham and Harris combined with the latter shooting wide when well placed after 51 minutes. Benjamin flew past two defenders cutting in along the goal line from the left before hitting the far post with a fierce drive as Wood looked to increase their hold on the game. Harris continued his poor afternoon when another superbly flighted ball from Hayes picked out the centre forward totally unmarked. His header was weak and wide.

Noto in stark contrast was dynamic in the centre of the park and his thirty-five yard blistering drive sent shudders down the spine of the visiting bench as it flew inches over the bar. Substitute Junior Dadson had a shot charged down for a corner, which Noto delivered from the left. It struck defender Gross on the arm who was nearest to the taker and Referee Mr. Mackay ended the game as a contest, allowing Noto to strike home from the spot to double the lead after 70 minutes.

Dartford were guilty of relinquishing possession all too easily on occasions and Wood duly added a third in a fine counter attacking move. Hayes’ poorly struck free kick was cleared out to McKenzie by Daniel Brathwaite. The centre forward travelled forty yards with the ball before unselfishly releasing for Noto arriving on the overlap who hit a sweet drive low into the bottom left hand corner.

Darts poor finishing continued when James White was denied by a point blank save by Jones from just six yards, before Sheringham somehow sliced the rebounded effort onto the bar from around four yards. Deep into stoppage time White picked out Sheringham with a long distance pass. His cross from the right evaded Brathwaite and Lee Noble hit home with power at the near post for a consolation goal to take back over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge.

Manager Ian Allinson summarised the victory saying, “We deserved it. We rode our luck and could have been two down at the interval after being the better side in my opinion. Greg Morgan was superb today. My half time team talk was duly rewarded after 25 seconds! I thought Leon McKenzie led the line magnificently and he is settling in well. We consider ourselves a little lucky with the penalty, but that is football and it has worked against us already this Season.”

Looking forward he added, “This win should give us the confidence boost to approach our F.A. Challenge Cup game positively next week, where a place in the last Qualifying Round is at stake.”

Team: Jones, Garrard, Brathwaite, Moran, Kersey, Noto, Cochrane, Godfrey, McKenzie (Sub – Allinson 86 mins.), Morgan (Sub – Cracknell 63 mins.), Benjamin (Sub – Dadson 67 mins.).

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

Goals: Boreham Wood: Bonner (Own Goal) 46, Noto 70 pen., 84. Dartford: Noble 90+3.

Man of the Match: Mario Noto.