By John Mead
Braintree Town visit Meadow Park on Boxing Day afternoon in a rich vein of form. The Essex side have tasted defeat in the League just once in their last ten outings, a 2-0 defeat up at Sincil Bank against Lincoln City back in October.
More recently their Cressing Road pitch has been deemed unplayable on three occasions, leaving our visitors still awaiting to get a twice rearranged F A Trophy tie against Bromley out of the way, prior to their visit to the excellent playing surface at Meadow Park.
The Iron are currently 9th in the Vanarama National League, just 3 points outside a play off place, but with games in hand over the sides above them.
It is somewhat of a rarity that Wood will be facing a side in this League where the two clubs have a history. They met four times during a period between 2001 and 2003 in the Ryman League Premier Division. Town won three of those games, the only Wood victory coming at home in September 2002. That season forty eight points were not sufficient to keep Wood up and they suffered relegation out of the Ryman Premier for the third time in their history.
It was 8 years later that the two sides found themselves in the Conference South, but that lasted just a season, with the Iron winning the League to establish themselves as a Conference National side. Both of those ties were classic games of two halves, both featured penalties and both featured Luke Garrard!
The away tie in August 2010 saw the Iron storm into a 2-0 half time lead with Sean Marks, who is still at the club netting a brace. Elliott Godfrey reduced the arrears in a much improved second half showing by Wood, before a penalty for either side resulted in a 3-2 victory for the Iron.
The last time the two sides met was in April 2011 when it was the visitors who improved after the interval, to record a 2-0 victory. Marks netted again, with Bradley Quinton providing a second from the penalty spot.
Since then Town have surprised many by faring very well in the top tier of Non League football. Last season’s 14th placed finish was their lowest to date and with it came a managerial change, with Alan Devonshire choosing to freshen up his career with a move to Maidenhead United. This heralded the arrival of the highly successful Concord Rangers’ Manager Danny Cowley, assisted by his brother Nicky. The pair put the lesser known Beachboys firmly on the Non League map, steering them from the Essex Senior League to the Conference South in their seven years in charge.
Cowley was quick to snap up the services of striker Michael Cheek from Chelmsford City, who has proved to be an astute signing. He is currently the top scorer at Cressing Road, with 8 goals. Second top scorer is Club Captain Kenny Davis with 5. The midfielder joined up with the Iron for the start of their Conference National journey from Grays Athletic and is enjoying his 5th season at the club.
There are two extremely influential members of the current Town squad that have played a part in the history of Boreham Wood Football Club. Twenty three year old Simeon Akinola is one of the biggest successes that the PASE Academy at Wood have unearthed. After limited starts in the Blue Square South season of 2011-12 he went on to spend two years at Harrow Borough before joining up with Braintree. His form at Cressing Road earned him an England C call up, adding 4 goals this season to the 7 he netted last campaign.
Another 23 year old now in his 3rd season with Town is Chez Isaac. The former Watford Academy player was hugely influential in Wood’s 9th placed Conference South finish in the season 2012-13. His consistent performances in the middle of the park attracted the interest of many higher placed teams and it was Braintree Town who secured his services for the following season. Fittingly it should be Isaac’s 100th appearance for the Iron when he returns to Meadow Park on Boxing Day.
Boreham Wood v Braintree Town.
Saturday December 26th, kick off 3pm.