Blue Square Bet South
Boreham Wood 1 Basingstoke Town 1
by John Mead
David Bryant’s gravity defying leap after seventy-seven minutes earned Wood a second successive draw in a highly athletic and tough encounter against a much improved Hampshire outfit.
Stephen O’Leary stepped in for the injured Daryl McMahon as the only change to the side that drew with Woking two days earlier. Both sides kicked off at a frenetic pace, a trend that was to continue until the final whistle.
The visitors looked dangerous when Wes Daly played David Pratt though down the left, until a brilliantly timed challenge inside the penalty area from Pelly Ruddock saved Wood. Ruddock then showed his attacking prowess. Turning away from a defender his legs were removed by Jay Gasson who earned a booking for his troubles.
The game ebbed and flowed yet it was Stoke who created the better chances. Pratt guided a cross from the right back across goal for Tim Sills and the ex-Torquay United forward thought he had the required angle to open the scoring save for a quite brilliant reaction block from the agile Elvijs Putnins in the Wood goal.
The Wood defence was made to work hard all night, given the lack of chances created on the offensive. Inih Effiong turned well and got off a low shot that was wide of the target as the war of attrition continued into the second half. Shaun McAuley tried his luck from distance for the visitors, then with Luke Wilkinson committed to attack, Stoke broke at pace through McAuley whose shot was deflected en route to Putnins. Town increased the pressure on the Wood goal, yet Charlie O’Loughlin and Wilkinson seemed impregnable. Daniel Brathwaite had perhaps the hardest task in pacifying the dangerous runs of Delano Sam-Yorke down the right.
Bryant and Ruddock combined with the latter’s cross palmed to safety, before Wood created their best chance. Effiong’s neatly threaded ball released Bryant into the penalty area only for Ross Adams to make a match saving tackle. Town gained the advantage from a right sided corner. It found Sills whose downward header was cleared at the left hand post as far as Sam-Yorke who reacted quickest to fire home from eight yards. Pratt almost won it for Town, his far post header running just wide of the far post, before a foul on Bryant led to a Wood free kick on the right. O’Leary’s delivery caused panic in the Town defence leading to a corner. Noto swung the ball over from the left where Bryant, the smallest man in the box, rose salmon like to place a fine header beyond Ashley Bayes and the 347 minute wait for Wood’s first competitive goal was over. Both sides continued to strive for the all important winner but further goal scoring chances failed to materialise.
For Ian Allinson it was “A pleasing result given the quality of the opposition. We did not give up and had several players lacking match fitness. Stephen O’Leary missed the whole of last Season, Sam Hurrell has been away in America and Mario Noto has just missed three weeks through injury. Our defensive work is good, now we need to work on improving things in front of goal as a priority. I am looking forward to the team firing on all cylinders.”
The League looks to have an even higher standard this Season, which Allinson explained, “The Squads in the professional Leagues have all been trimmed as the number of Substitutes has been reduced by two. Clubs are downsizing and quality players are dropping down a Division to find work. Take our last two home games for example, Lee Peacock drops out of the pro game and scores against us for Havant, and tonight the same thing happens with Tim Sills creating their goal.”
Team: Putnins, Sankofa, Brathwaite, O’Leary, Wilkinson, O’Loughlin, Ruddock (Sub – Akinola 80 mins.), Bryant, Effiong (Sub – Palmer 78 mins.), Noto, Hurrell (Sub – Hunter 90 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Smith, Jordan.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Bryant 77. Basingstoke Town: Sam-Yorke 68.
Wood Man of The Match: Charlie O’Loughlin.