Boreham Wood 2 Watford 2
by John Mead
This was the first time that Wood have not lost in the traditional Season opener against the Hertfordshire giants, a result that left Wood boss Ian Allinson purring.
Allinson has managed to keep the majority of his Squad intact with a string of additions that on this showing will go a long way to giving the Wood the top ten finish that he so craves.
The game featured eight players pulling on the Wood shirt for the first time, along with the extremely popular return of Ali Chaaban, with four PASE players also featuring.
Watford’s own Youth product Marvin Sordell nearly opened the scoring after just three minutes, when he blasted over Gavin Massey’s left sided cross when well placed. Wood then found themselves keeping the Hornet’s defence busy thanks to the industry of the highly impressive Daryl McMahon, winning a free kick when he was shoved off the ball. Up stepped Mario Noto who found the top right hand corner with an unstoppable curling effort from twenty yards out, with thirteen minutes played.
Soon it was the turn of McMahon’s old teammate from Farnborough Michael Jordan to impress in the Wood goal as Watford piled forward. He pulled off a smart low save to thwart a low Shaun Murray effort that took a deflection.
The Hornets tried their luck from a longer distance, with Michael Kamara and debutant Charlie O’Loughlin making some timely interventions in the Wood rearguard. Luke Garrard looked sharp playing in front of the defence and Captain Mario Noto showed no signs of a honeymoon hangover with a typically spirited display.
The best move of the game came down the Wood right and involved McMahon, David Bryant and Ali Chaaban with Bryant’s low shot from just inside the area turned around the post for a corner.
Watford replied through a goal of real class on the half hour. Sordell wriggled and turned down the left sending a cross into danger. Daniel Brathwaite headed high only for the ball to fall for John Eustace who chested onto his own right foot hitting the perfect low volley that left Jordan no chance whatsoever from the edge of the area.
Jordan then made fine saves to deny Sordell and Michael Bryan, before Hornet’s ‘keeper Jonathan Bond kept his side on level terms. McMahon cut inside from the right curling an effort that was just kept out at the right hand post at the second attempt.
Jordan then showed another quality in picking out Chaaban to send Wood unbelievably in front going into the interval. His long clearance caught Lloyd Doyley napping and Chaaban coolly finished beyond Bond from twelve yards. With ten fresh full time professional players available for Watford to start the second half Wood were up against it and lost their advantage after 49 minutes. Chez Isaac had his original cross from the right returned to him and at the second attempt picked out Piero Mingola who kept his shot low through a sea of players to leave Jordan the task of picking the ball out of the net.
The fresh legs of Watford enjoyed the lion’s share of possession thereafter, with Wood doing just enough to soak up the pressure.
Allinson’s men were reliant on the brilliance of Jordan when Josh Walker hit a rasping rising drive from the left bound for the top corner, which produced the save of the game, a magnificent full stretched rising dive to push the ball around the post. It got the applause of the 850 crowd that it commanded.
Simeon Akinola had Wood’s best chance of the half when he headed wide from a McMahon cross from the left.
For Allinson it was “A very pleasing afternoon. That was Watford we were playing and we set our stall out so you have got to be pleased!”
On the shape of the Squad he added, “I think it was obvious today we have brought in a couple of players of real quality and it is paramount that we send out the right players around them so that they do not get frustrated. Daryl McMahon and Michael Jordan had stand out afternoons. The whole Squad played its part though and it gives me the feeling we are in a position to have a go at the League this year.”
The Wood Squad is in a remarkably advanced stage of stability after just one game, with all the players who featured having now signed for the club. “There will be one or two more additions I feel” added Allinson as the team await Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday night.
Team: Jordan (Sub – Baker-Owers 81 mins.), Kamara (Sub – Matthews 45 mins.), D. Brathwaite, Garrard, Smith (Sub – Walker 75 mins.), O’Loughlin (Sub – E. Brathwaite 62 mins.), Chaaban (Sub – Yaku 45 mins.), McMahon, Bryant (Sub – Akinola 71 mins.), Noto, Godfrey (Sub – Hunter 62 mins.).
Goals: Boreham Wood: Noto 13, Chabaan 41. Watford: Eustace 30, Mingola 49.