Boreham Wood battled to a 0-0 draw in their first away match of the new National League season, against Havant & Waterlooville.

Debutant Ellery Balcombe was forced into two outstanding first half saves, to deny the hosts their first ever National League win.

Fellow new signing Justin Shaibu also came straight into the starting line up, as he partnered Ricky Shakes upfront, with Angelo Balanta in behind.

The hosts took a few minutes to grow into a fast-paced opening ten minutes, but forced Balcombe into an impressive save with the first chance of the game. Alfie Pavey’s right-wing cross was met by the head of Wes Fogden, but Balcombe acrobatically pushed it out of the top right corner.

The new Wood stopper was then called into action again when he went one-on-one with Nicke Kabamba, but Balcombe came out on top again.

Danny Woodards countered for the visitors, but his low cross across the box evaded the Wood attack.

The game continued in the same intensity and Balanta drove forward with the ball, before teeing off Femi Ilesanmi down the left, but his effort slid inches wide of the far post. Balanta then sent a strike over the bar from 20-yards.

A defensive mix-up between David Stephens and Manny Parry was nicked by Fogden and slipped into Andreas Robinson, but somehow Balcombe was off his line to deny the attacker from point-blank range.

Keiran Murtagh took the ball on the turn and fizzled it inches wide, to the frustration of the travelling Wood Army. Balanta then curled a close-range free-kick straight into the host’s wall.

Luke Garrard sent his troops back out for the second half hoping for a more potent offensive display and nearly saw his side go ahead within two minutes. Murtagh recycled a corner, but his cross skimmed the head of the towering Stephens and away from danger.

Andreas Robinson reacted for the home side with a whipped corner into Pavey, but he couldn’t aim his header on target.

Intricate play on the edge of the area between Murtagh and Balanta saw the latter curl a shot into the hands of Hawks’ ‘keeper Ryan Young.

A clever set-piece routine from the hosts saw Andreas Robinson drag the ball back across the box for Pavey, but his shot was blocked clear.

A smoothly manoeuvred flick from Balanta released Murtagh to charge at the Havant defence, but he was pulled back by Paul Robinson. The subsequent free-kick was caught by Young.

With under ten minutes remaining, Havant & Waterlooville had an opportunity to take the lead when the ball fell for Andreas Robinson in the area, but he could only slice wide.

The Wood had one final chance to take the lead as a lovely touch and turn from substitute Bradley Ash took him around his marker, but he could only fire his shot into the hands of Young.

The Wood: Balcombe, Woodards, Ilesanmi, Ricketts ©, Parry, Stephens, Shakes, Champion, Murtagh, Balanta, Shaibu (Ash 75’)

Subs not used: Fyfield, Thomas, Smith, Clifford

Havant & Waterlooville: Young, Williams (Huggins 69’), Stock © (Carter 45’), Harris, Fogden, Pavey, Kabamba (Rutherford 83’), Tarbuck, A Robinson, Rose, P Robinson

Subs not used: Woodford, Lewis

Attendance: 1,348


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