Blue Square Bet South
Dartford 2 Boreham Wood 2
by John Mead
With The Darts already assured of a second place finish and Wood merely protecting their eighth spot in the table anybody thinking that only pride was at stake would have been hugely mistaken. Ian Allinson finally had a full Squad from which to select, which was a godsend against very strong opponents.
The Darts squandered two early chances. James Rogers running central skipped past challenges from Sam Cox and Luke Garrard before lifting his effort over the bar. Then Mark Jones gave the ball straight to Tony Garrod who shot wide when well placed. Wood quickly found their feet playing some good passing football, whilst Garrard and Jones produced some excellent tackles to protect Elvijs Putnins’ goal.
Garrard picked up a booking before The Darts opened their account from their second corner of the game. Tom Champion delivered a goal bound header that was deflected past Putnins at the right hand post by Garrod.
Wood however responded well and Cox went close from the edge of the area after some great hold up play inside the penalty area from David Bryant.
The Wood equaliser came from a fine defence splitting ball from Jones who found Bryant inside the area. He controlled before squaring across the box from the left. Omer Riza dummied giving Graeme Montgomery space to hit a sweetly struck left footed shot into the top left hand corner of the net after thirty minutes.
Riza then saw a shot charged down by Tom Bonner before Wood constructed the move of the match. Osei Sankofa played out of defence to Cox who played a superb one touch exchange with Montgomery before releasing Garrard whose effort from just outside the area was high of the target.
Dartford were suitably upset by Wood’s dominance and embarked upon a mission to get Garrard sent off, rather than concentrate on the task in hand. Danny Harris and Charlie O’Loughlin then contributed to the tense atmosphere with both players lucky to still have a shirt on their backs in a number of clashes in what was a fractious end to the half. Riza was tripped when he span exquisitely away from his marker with David Hutton’s free kick failing to trouble Louis Wells.
Thankfully Dartford concentrated on playing football after the break and found Wood a tough nut to crack. Garrard defended well, before Putnins raced out of his area to clear the impending danger as Wood played with authority turning defence into attack. Harris won a race with Putnins on the edge of the area but the great team effort continued with Montgomery on hand to mop up behind his ‘keeper.
Thirty-two year old Riza showed his incredible fitness bursting onto a lofted ball forward. He got beyond Adam Green only for Paul Goodacre to haul him down in a fifty-fifty challenge. With Riza the last man and falling well inside the area, Referee Mr. Woolford erred on the side of sensibility giving a free kick right on the edge of the area and just a yellow card allow the Darts man to compete in the two legged Play-offs for promotion.
The introduction of Jacob Erskine gave the home side a lift and four minutes later Lee Noble picked him out on the edge of the area from a right sided cross and he hit a sweet first time volley which tucked right into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. It came a little against the run of play and was certainly not what Wood had deserved from their excellent performance.
With two minutes remaining the equaliser came. Jones was held up delivering his free kick from the right by some fussy officiating. Luckily for Wood Mr. Woolford pinpointed the exact spot for Jones to deliver a telling cross that O’Loughlin ran onto diving to head home a fantastic goal, his second in two games, to cap a fine afternoon on the road.
“It was important to contain them for the first twenty minutes, which we spoke about before the game. Then we go and concede but showed tremendous character in how we reacted after both their goals. We played very well today and did enough I thought to have won the game. The superb move in the first half when Luke Garrard blasted over and the second half run of Omer Riza which on another day would have been a penalty and a red card were the defining moments for me, as I thought the challenge was inside the area.” Ian Allinson went on to explain the commitment shown by his side with little at stake adding, “This game was about planning for next Season and Dartford were in no mood to roll over. I would hope to keep the nucleus of this Squad intact as we are very near to a finished product that can stake a claim for a Play-off place and that was evident today.”
Team: Putnins, Sankofa, Jones, Garrard, Reynolds, O’Loughlin, Hutton (Sub – Akinola 81 mins.), Cox, Bryant, Riza, Montgomery (Sub – Effiong 81 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Noto, Beckles, Jordan.
Bookings: Garrard, Riza.
Goals: Dartford: Garrod 22, Erskine 79. Boreham Wood: Montgomery 30, O’Loughlin 88.
Man of the Match: Charlie O’Loughlin.