Pre-Season Friendly

Boreham Wood    1    Arsenal X1    7

by John Mead

A truly exemplary lesson in finishing was meted out to Wood in this showpiece Friendly. With The Watford Peace Hospice set to receive a generous 50% of the proceeds it was in that respect a fantastic evening.

This was Wood’s biggest ever defeat against Arsenal Pre-Season and reflected the
magnificent performance the young Gunners side produced. Bolstered by the contribution of twenty year old Sanchez Watt who played twenty-two games for Leeds United last Season and England “Under 21” star Henri Lansbury who spent last Season helping Norwich City to a Championship medal, the visitors were simply outstanding.

It was a brave decision by Wood Manager Ian Allinson to give seven PASE Scheme
players the opportunity to take part, which he admitted in hindsight, “May have
been a bridge too far. However it was for them the chance to tell their friends and family what they have achieved and they like the rest of the Squad can only learn how to improve when playing against some of the best young players in the country”.

With Loan deals settled on Daggers Luke Wilkinson and striker Ollie Palmer who
arrives from Woking until January, both players were included in the starting eleven.

Wood went into a surprise lead after thirteen minutes when their “Man of
the Match” Mario Noto hit a quickly taken free kick beyond the reach of Reice
Charles-Cook. You could almost smell the dented pride of a side who had previously yet to concede in their Pre-Season and they duly levelled three minutes later. The two real stand out stars Lansbury and Watt both had a hand in the equaliser. Lansbury’s shot stung the hands of Michael Jordan who probably had the busiest ninety minutes of his entire Career. Watt’s lightning reactions saw him collect, swivel and fire home in the blink of an eye. David Bryant then charged down two challenges supplying Palmer who did well to get a shot away that Charles-Cook was equal to. When Charlie Hunter lost possession after 27 minutes Chuks Aneke fed Watt who forced Jordan to block with his body, allowing Luke Freeman, who unbelievably played an F.A. Cup game for his previous Club Gillingham at just fifteen years old, to tap home.

Eight minutes later and the excellent Lansbury hit a rocket from thirty yards out to
make it 1 – 3 to the Gunners with Wood seeing very little of the ball at this stage. Daniel Brathwaite cleared Aneke’s effort off the line before Wood had two good chances before the interval, both from corners.

Luke Wilkinson went close at the far post, before Hunter hit a fine shot from a short corner that brought a good save out of Charles-Cook. Inih Effiong and Simeon Akinola were introduced after the interval up front for Wood and it was no coincidence that Wood entered their best twenty minute spell of the game. Both full of running, Akinola was often helping out in defence as well as battling up front against the fabulous Arsenal outfit. Ali Chaaban shot just wide for Wood, before Bryant was so close to connecting with a fine Noto free kick.

Arsenal introduced fresh legs and ran riot in the last twenty minutes adding four more goals as Wood’s young stars of the future struggled to cope. Lansbury supplied a curling free kick that Serge Gnarby applied the finishing touch to at the far post after 67 minutes. Two minutes later a fine cut back from the right by Sead Hajrovic was buried by Kyle Ebecilo, making it 1 – 5.

Jordan in the Wood goal made two breathtaking saves to deny Aneke inside the space of four minutes, before Lansbury made it two assists to add to his goal, supplying Watt who steered wide of Cameron Baker-Owers. On the stroke of full time Wood were made to pay heavily as Noto’s unsuccessful desperate effort to prevent Watt from completing his hat-trick saw the Captain stretchered off the field to hospital after damaging an ankle. Speaking after the game Ian Allinson commented, “I was surprised to lose so heavily but that takes nothing away from the brilliant movement, passing and finishing that Arsenal showed tonight. Given that they had just beaten Division One outfit Stevenage they cannot be underestimated. My concerns are that Daniel Brathwaite, Luke Wilkinson and Charlie O’Loughlin are all carrying injuries, Luke Garrard had to come off at half time and Mario Noto is in the hospital. We have a Season that starts in two weeks time and that is really what Pre -Season is all about.”

Team:     Jordan (Sub – Baker-Owers 80 mins.), Sankofa, Brathwaite (Sub – Walker 61 mins.), Garrard (Sub – Akinola 45 mins.), Wilkinson (Sub – Kamara 80 mins.), Hunter (Sub – Yala 61 mins.), Chaaban (Sub –Ruddock 73 mins.), McMahon, Palmer (Sub – Effiong 45 mins.), Noto, Bryant (Sub –Scott-Morris 73 mins.).

Goals:     Boreham Wood:    Noto 13.            Arsenal:    Watt 16, 85, 90. Freeman 27, Lansbury 35, Gnarby 67, Ebecilio 70.