With an impressive start to our league campaign nearly cemented. ‘Wood’ sit top the Vanarama Conference South after nine matches played. So I thought it was high time (excuse the pun) to catch up with our Gaffer Ian Allinson to chew the fat and get his thoughts.
JM: Congratulations Ian on springing a surprise on the rest of the Vanarama Conference South. Did you see our fast start coming?
IA: I talk about consistency all the time and we have added that in our early season performances, we also have momentum and a purpose at the moment.
When I look back at our pre-season, we showed improvement in each game and you do not hold a Premiership Side like Arsenal, that’s full of Internationals for 68 minutes like we did or only lose by the odd goal against a full strength Watford side who sit fourth in The Championship without being half decent.
Add to that we held Cambridge United, Luton Town and a strong Reading to goal less draws and it showed me we had improved by some distance from last season.
IA: Your right John, nobody could not of predicted that… This League is tough and we had not played against anyone in pre-season at our level so I could not gauge ourselves.
We then met Farnborough in the opening game of the season and hit the ground running from the very first minute with a Monty wonder strike.
Goals followed at Hemel Hempstead, when we seemed to punish every mistake against what I still say are very good side.
However for me you have to look at last week’s 5-2 win against Eastbourne Borough, as a true barometer to our progress. As that was one of the best performances, I have been involved in as a Manager and the game was a credit to both sides.
We were also excellent at Sutton United, scoring three against another top side, which I was delighted with but it is also the nature of some of the victories, that give me a good feeling about this season.
I can point to our 0-1 win at Gosport Borough as an example, of a narrow victory, ground out against a previously unbeaten side, who are strong, organised and do not give away goals easily. Perhaps that was the game that gave us all a belief that we are on the right lines..
JM: You told me you rate our performance against Staines Town when we lost 2-1, going two goals down after just four minutes as one of our best, can you explain that?
IA: Yes I can, it was only three games into the season and we had stuck 6 past Hemel on the Tuesday night to go top. We went to Staines in good form and then conceded two goals in the opening few minutes. We then showed immense character on the day and though losing 2-1, it was a game we should of won.
We were comfortably the best side for 75 minutes but the spirit and quality football we showed that day, after going behind is going to be essential if we are to be successful.
You cannot roll over and lose momentum when your up against it in this league and for me, that afternoon the players showed what Boreham Wood Football Club and my teams are all about.
JM: Lee Angol is the League’s current top scorer. He has only just turned 20 and seems to have a very bright future. How did his season long term loan come about?
I saw his potential during Lee’s loan spell with us last season. So when Wycombe Wanderers released him, we were obviously very interested but felt he needed to have full time training. The Chairman subsequently alerted both John Still and Terry Harris at Luton, to the players potential and after meeting both us and the player, they signed him.
As such I was delighted that as part of those discussions, Luton Town agreed a season long loan and that will allow us to develop the player for this season.
This level of football is a fantastic shop window for young players like Lee, who have been released by Pro sides and it’s a route back into full time football.
So for both clubs and Lee in this instance, it is a win, win situation, as our Chairman said it didn’t need an agent, just a common sense approach and that got the deal done without a hiccup.
JM: Lee’s latest goal came in our 4-0 win against Chelmsford City. There was a slight worry on my behalf that we would suffer a hangover after our blistering performance against Eastbourne Borough. How did you approach the game and how did you prepare the players for that?
IA: It’s important to realise, that games like the Eastbourne one do not come along every week. We have a history of raising our game against the top sides and that’s how we treated the Chelmsford City game as they are a big club.
Without disrespecting Chelmsford, they will admit at the moment they are not firing but their fans make every game a big one with their vocal support.
We had an off day on our last Saturday home game against Bath City. So it was important to ensure the players learnt from those mistakes and that I learnt as well, as I got my team selection wrong..
Against Chelmsford the players showed me, that they have learnt which was pleasing. As I had instructed them not to force things, not panic if the game remained tight and if we performed with a tempo and pressed all over the park the goals and result would come.
In football even the best sides, do not play well every week and I remind everyone we are a still a small club at this level, with a small support base and the Chairman reminds we must take small steps forward but no steps back.
IA: Ben Nunn has been our most consistent player for two seasons and with that in mind, he will be an extremely hard act to replace. I did though know about Ben’s plans in the summer and have been looking at options.
We have Greg Morgan, Luke Garrard and you saw the introduction of fullback Matthew Parsons after 75 minutes against Chelmsford City on Saturday.
Matt is a fullback who played ten games for Plymouth Argyle last season, he is highly regarded, has been training at Dover and as such we need to properly assess him.
I also took the opportunity to have another look at Ryan Hope and Mario Noto at right back in two recent reserve games, so we do have options.
We now need to ensure we are set up in the best possible way and have options in every position. So we have added David Moli to the squad after his release from Wolves. David was with us last season and if we can get him firing we know what he can do.
We need more than two strikers, to create competition for places and we have a few irons in the fire but sometimes the deals do not work out when agents get involved. I can’t listen to nonsense from middle men when I just want players, to want to play and perform, so I leave agents to the a Chairman as its important we only get the right players with good attitudes and characters..
JM: How much in your opinion have we improved since last season?
IA: I think we have had a strong defensive unit for a while now but perhaps do need some defensive cover. We could I suppose set ourselves up for clean sheets and try and nick 1-0 wind with our back four but I don’t want to play that way.
So we targeted players that we thought could influence things going forward, who we knew would work hard for the team and we have been rewarded. With the likes of Lee Angol, Austin Lipman, Monty and Matty Whichelow, who are all firing but it’s a long season and though it seems longer it only started a month ago.
We do though have a much stronger midfield spine. Sam Cox was obviously a key signing as was Scott Thomas but Ricky Shakes has also been a revelation in a centre mid role and it feels like a new signing for me after last season’s injury problems.
This means Scott, Ryan Hope and Mario Noto are at present all fighting for a starting place. That’s a great situation for me to be in as a Manager and when you look at the competition for places it has put us where we are now.
JM: After two years of great cup performances especially against Brentford and Carlisle Utd. You must be looking forward to the prospect of knockout football again, as the FA Cup comes calling once again.
IA: We have Basingstoke Town before then and any player looking at the FA Cup draw will have a problem as he’ll be sitting with me on the bench.
That said, of course this is a competition we all want to do well in. The club have a good record reaching the First Round Proper and in the last two seasons we’ve competed well even against the pro clubs. It also brings not only revenue but raises the profile of the whole club and is a fantastic experience for me, the players and the fans.
That said the FA Cup if we continue our good league form could be a distraction. As it is sandwiched between two massive league games on the road. As we go to two top Conference South sides, in the shape of Basingstoke Town and Havant and Waterlooville. Though In cup football all you can hope for is a home draw and whoever you face you prepare for correctly and keep believing in yourselves.
JM: Thank you Ian, congratulations on a quite excellent start and long may it continue!