Blue Square Bet South
Boreham Wood 2 Hampton and Richmond Borough 2
by John Mead
A new look Wood side fought back from a goal down to lead in this battle of out of form sides, before settling for a share of the spoils.
The visitors had failed to take a point from their last four League outings, a current form statistic that on paper made Wood the favourites for the match. However, with players joining and leaving Meadow Park almost as frequently as fans pass through the turnstiles it is very much work in progression.
The aim is simple, create a side that can survive in the climate of the sixth highest level of the national game. To the cause Ali Chaaban, a Lebanese national, made his First Team debut up front, after the sacking of Leon McKenzie. The twenty-eight year old earned notoriety last year as “Ali C” when he featured for Staines Town his last Club in a nationally televised F.A. Challenge Cup run. His very presence drew much attention from a well marshalled Beavers defence.
In defence Michael Kamara, a previous team mate of Chaaban’s at Staines Town, made a solid start to his Wood Career. The twenty-one year old Sierra Leone “Under 20” International played Conference Football for Woking and showed throughout his debut a calmness and assurance.
Greg Morgan was the star of the show until his withdrawal with a niggling injury after 59 minutes, which gave the visitors some breathing space. Sam Hurrell, on Loan from Woking, set up the Wood player that has enjoyed his whole Career at the Club, after just four minutes. His deflected low drive had the beating of ‘keeper Joe Talbot, yet the Beavers star man of the afternoon, David Stevens somehow got back to claw the effort off of the line. Hurrell then forced a save from Talbot, before Wood were caught off guard defensively in the Beavers first attack of the game. A cute back heel from Ian Hodges gave James Simmonds possession on the edge of the area. He fashioned a fine clipped ball out to the right which Hodges ran out to accept sending a looping header over Ashlee Jones after just nine minutes.
Mario Noto took advantage of a succession of free kicks setting up Ryan Moran who headed down for Elliott Godfrey whose drive towards goal was charged down by the defence as Wood set up camp in the Beavers half. Hurrell almost replied for Wood when a scuffed clearance fell kindly, yet he failed to connect cleanly when well placed.
Noto’s free kick around the wall and onto the post on the half hour mark led to a rather fortuitous corner, from which Morgan hit a fierce low drive which Orlando Jeffrey blocked on the goal line. With Daniel Brathwaite foraging forward Wood produced some fine attacking football, yet an excellent delivery from Hurrell in stoppage time failed to find a finisher at the far post.
Messrs. Adams, Stevens, Boateng and Jeffrey looked impregnable at the back for the visitors until the 56th minute. Chaaban played an exquisite ball forward for Hurrell who shot from an angle on the left. Talbot parried as far as Godfrey who was dragged back by a defender, with the loose ball falling for Hurrell who buried his effort into the top right hand corner at the second time of asking to gain parity. Nine minutes later and Wood were ahead. Noto’s sweetly struck free kick from forty yards out on the left found the run of Moran whose half diving header had too much power to prevent Talbot from protecting his goal.
Danny Charge, another midweek signing from Billericay Town, had already replaced Morgan and the twenty-two year old quickly showed he had the necessary credentials to compete at this level. However it was the arrival of the hulk like Leon Yarnie up front for Hampton after Wood’s second goal that gave the visitors some hope. He set up the equaliser after 74 minutes when a break down the middle of the park allowed him to set up Dean Inman with a deft flick to his right. Inman’s sight on goal was suddenly unobstructed and he picked his spot past Jones. Charge then found Wood Substitute Joe Benjamin whose shot on the turn inside a crowd of players forced a save from Talbot.
Yarnie continued to trouble forcing a fine reaction save at the near post from Jones after running onto Jeffrey’s long clearance. His flick on for fellow Substitute Lawrence Yaku set the veteran striker through on goal with his lobbed effort just too high. Scorer Inman almost grabbed a late winner with a bicycle kick effort, yet a draw was probably the right result.
Team: Jones, Garrard, Brathwaite, Moran, Kamara, Noto, Morgan (Sub – Charge 59 mins.), Godfrey, Chaaban (Sub – Benjamin 71), Cochrane, Hurrell.
Subs (Not used): King, Baker-Owers.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Hurrell 56, Moran 65. Hampton and Richmond Borough: Hodges 9, Inman 74.
Man of the Match: Sam Hurrell.