Hertfordshire F.A. Senior Challenge Cup – First Round

Hertford Town    1    Boreham Wood    2

(After extra time)

By John Mead

Marvin Samuel’s Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League strugglers pushed a Wood side, made up of a mixture of youth and experience, right to the wire.    A combination of squandering chances into double figures combined with a superb goalkeeping performance from Town’s Alex Elf made this a closer contest than many would have predicted.

For Wood boss Ian Allinson it was a chance to “get minutes into players that need it whilst casting a watchful eye over some of the up and coming youth products.”    That plan went slightly awry just before kick off when Simeon Akinola failed to make the starting line-up due an ankle injury, with PASE player Dan Loveday replacing him.

David Bryant was included and although he was obviously brimming with confidence he somehow failed to get his name on the score sheet on this occasion.    He combined well with David Hutton throughout and after nine minutes tried an audacious lob that was repelled by a tremendous full stretch tip over from Elf.

From the resultant corner Hutton picked out Wood’s leading scorer whose fierce drive skimmed the top of the crossbar.    Daniel Brathwaite, in his first game since returning from injury, then almost found Bryant with a lovely cross field ball.

Jordan Lawal showed touches of class on occasions winning possession to set up Bryant who in turn sent Chez Isaac through on goal, only to shoot wide.    Lawal then sent Bryant through, who was denied by Elf, who also blocked Hutton’s follow up shot.

Town were struggling to break down a resolute Wood defence bolstered by the welcome return of Luke Garrard playing for the first time since the opening game of the Season.    The classy Chet Johnson flashed a shot across the goal mouth on the half hour, the first time Cameron Baker-Owers had seen action in the Wood goal.

Osei Sankofa then crossed for Lawal who hooked his shot just wide, before Bryant shot at Elf.    It was totally one way traffic when Hutton had a clean run at goal only to pull his shot the wrong side of the post with Elf exposed.

Then totally against the run of play Johnson delivered a fine free kick from the left which found Mark Draper who headed home across Baker-Owers to stun the visitors.

Bryant squandered further chances before the interval, before Elf saved brilliantly from an early second half free kick from Hutton.    Elf then denied Charlie Hunter before finally conceding after sixty-one minutes.    Sankofa’s run into the penalty area was ended with a shove in the back and Isaac sent the Town custodian the wrong way from the penalty spot.

The game took on a more even bias thereafter with the Town back four defending resolutely from set pieces.    Jamie Packer made a well timed tackle to deny Hutton, before Wood Substitute Dean Rubinia continued the theme of profligacy in front of goal.

It is debatable if Marvin Samuel has a better ‘keeper in his ranks than Elf, who has played only four times for the side including last Season’s game between these two sides.    He kept Town’s hopes alive again to deny Isaac, sending the tie into extra time.

Lawal had a fine effort cleared off the line before Substitute Mark Jones flashed a shot just wide.

It took ninety-nine minutes for Wood to forge ahead for the first time, through second year PASE student Rubinia.    Bryant provided the looping ball over the defence which the seventeen year old ran onto coolly chipping Elf who was finally undone in open play.

Baker-Owers was forced into a point blank save to thwart a Draper header from close range, before Bryant again hit the woodwork at the other end.    The last action of the tie saw Baker-Owers smother a last ditch effort on the goal line as Wood  go through to host Leverstock Green in the next Round.

Team:    Baker-Owers, Sankofa, Brathwaite (Sub – Jones 75 mins.), Hunter, Garrard, Yala, Lawal (Sub –Lancaster110 mins), Isaac, Bryant, Loveday (Sub – Rubinia 75 mins.), Hutton.

Subs (Not used):    Wilkinson, Jordan.

Bookings:    Sankofa, Lancaster.

Goals:    Hertford Town:    Draper 40.            Boreham Wood:    Isaac 61 pen, Rubinia 99.

Man of the Match:    Alex Elf (HertfordTown).

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