Wood Checked By Bishop’s
Boreham Wood 2 Bishop’s Stortford 2
by John Mead
An early insight into a tough Season ahead was provided by the visitors in this hard fought encounter. Donovan Simmonds and Matthew Ball provided the fuel for Ian Allinson’s men with two goals inside a minute, yet the Wood Boss was made to settle for a point.
“We did not really get going in either half and were up against a very strong unit who came and had a go tonight. They caused us a lot of problems with their height from set pieces and in the end I was pleased not to get beaten.”
The Blues controlled the opening twenty minutes with some good quick passing and ball retention without threatening. Then their impetus gathered momentum when James Russell was called upon. He made a fine double save as the visitors main dangerman Kyle Vassell and George Sykes combined. Sykes was denied as his low drive from the left was palmed away only as far as Vassell who picked his spot aiming at Russell’s left hand post, with the Wood custodian doing extremely well to get down and get his fingers to the effort.
It was a blistering period of attack from Stortford who were denied when Reece Prestedge failed to guide home a Matt Johnson cross. However the pressure paid off when Mario Noto gave up possession to Sykes who slotted Vassell through down the right. This time he left Russell no chance with a low shot across goal that went in off the post after twenty-four minutes.
The lead looked comfortable for eleven minutes until Wood hit back in devastating fashion. Mark Jones swung over a cross from his left flank to the far post where Simmonds outjumped his marker to head home at the far post, past a flapping Sam Cowler, to give the game a different complexion. There was barely time to celebrate before Ball, on Loan from Stevenage, produced a moment to savour.
It was Jones again who set up the goal with his cross from the left after good interplay with Noto. The delivery hit a Stortford defender flying into the path of Ball on the edge of the area, whose technique was perfect in producing a volley that flew into the back of the net at breathtaking speed.
Ball almost extended the lead with a deft curling effort from twenty-five yards that just cleared the crossbar. There was some stout defending required by Wood and they were impregnable, none more so than Charlie O’Loughlin’s superb challenge on Sykes as he looked to cut in from the right.
Stortford emerged for the second half in ruthless fashion. Having stemmed the supply route of Matty Whichelow and Ball to good effect they went close through Callum McNaughton from a corner.
Graeme Montgomery flashed a dangerous ball across goal for Wood as the aerial bombardment on Russell’s goal was dealt with by some excellent team defending. It was a foul by Ben Nunn on the breaking Vassell that led to the equaliser. The free kick from the left was delivered by Matt Johnson finding the head of Sean Francis who ran forward to flick home beyond Russell.
Vassell was again denied by Russell before Nunn who had an impressive night timed his challenge to perfection to deny Sykes who was bearing down on goal. The height of the visitors will certainly cause problems for the best sides in the League this campaign, with McNaughton climbing late on to head against the bar.
In summary Allinson added, “Two games in forty-eight hours probably took its toll on the likes of Matty Whichelow and Matthew Ball who came in late in our Pre-Season. Add to that the fact that Charlie O’Loughlin and Donovan Simmonds are just back from injury, it was pleasing to come away with something. We will come back this Saturday stronger collectively after such a tough game against a very good side.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Garrard, O’Loughlin, Ball, Simmonds, Noto, Willock (Sub – Hastings 80 mins.), Whichelow (Sub – Brown 88 mins.), Montgomery (Sub – Sterling-Parker 88 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Doolan, Courtnage.
Bookings: Ball, Garrard.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Simmonds 33, Ball 34. Bishop’s Stortford: Vassell 24, Francis 74.
Man of the Match: Charlie O ‘Loughlin.