Blue Square Bet South
Boreham Wood 3 Eastleigh 0
by John Mead
Title favourites Eastleigh were given a lot to think about on the way back to Hampshire as Ian Allinson’s side systematically ground them down with a quite brilliant team performance.
Both sides were pumped up paying little attention to the 32 degree heat with the visitors the quicker out of the starting blocks.
Wood Captain Mario Noto lasted just eleven minutes as, in previous Seasons a key player is rendered sidelined within minutes of the Season starting. His hamstring is expected to put him out of action for three to four weeks.
The Spitfires showed intent when a Michael Green free kick from inside his own half found Craig McAllister who headed wide. Meanwhile Wood were battling magnificently in the centre of the park, with Luke Garrard and Chez Isaac quite outstanding. A mistake by Tom Jordan allowed the lively Omer Riza through on goal, shooting just wide from an angle. The intensity of the game increased by the moment, with Wood less direct than their opponents but displaying an intricacy that once or twice needed an offside flag to rescue the Spitfires defence, with Riza key in all of the moves.
Green took a quick free kick and almost caught James Russell out. His thirty-five yard effort crashed back into play off the post, an effort that typified the no nonsense approach that the visitors displayed, that is, until they fell behind to a fine Wood counter attack. Advancing through the middle of the park David Hutton found Riza whose superb feet allowed him to thread the ball through to Graeme Montgomery amid a sea of defenders. Against his old Club he opened the scoring guiding the ball beyond Jack Dovey with a well placed finish from ten yards out.
The goal heralded some superb defending in particular from Callum Reynolds as Wood finished the half with another bout of sexy football, again Riza falling just foul of the flag.
The game took on a fractious bias second half with Wood now in the ascendency, albeit at just a goal up. Mark Jones almost caught Dovey out with a left sided cross that ended up bound for the top left hand corner of the net, forcing a fingertip save. Then came the moment of the match and quite possibly the Season. Hutton who had already contributed to the first goal produced an audacious lob down the left wing. It looked destined for Riza, yet Inih Effiong took control with a deft first touch. He took off at two defenders running first outside then inside them driving ever closer to goal. He made space and curled a superb shot beyond Dovey into the bottom right hand corner of the net for one of the great individual goals scored at Meadow Park.
Eastleigh were never allowed back into the game such was the team ethic showed by Wood. Daryl McMahon hit a rising drive over the bar, then curled a free kick wide, before a howling defensive error gifted Wood a third and it was no more than they deserved. Defender Jordan lost control when trying an easy back pass to his ‘keeper, which was pounced upon by Effiong down by the touch line. He did well to cross for Riza who had the simple task of condemning Eastleigh to certain defeat from close range.
Russell had to stay alert to repel decent late efforts from McAllister and McMahon to ensure his side made the perfect start, which left Ian Allinson naturally pleased, “We carried our fine Pre-Season form on into the League and showed today we have the best Squad since we entered this League three years ago. We are small in number but the majority are under twenty-five and they all have a point to prove.”
On the opposition he added, “Eastleigh started better than us but once we got onto the front foot we looked solid. They are a side that if you let them get in front they would be very decent. I firmly believe that in this League getting the first goal is pivotal and thankfully we did that today. Our second goal came at a crucial time I felt and allowed us to kill the game.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Garrard, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Noto (Sub – Hutton 11 mins.), Isaac, Riza, Effiong (Sub – Buchanan 72 mins.), Montgomery.
Subs (Not used): Close, Scott-Morris, Baker-Owers.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Montgomery 35, Effiong 55, Riza 66.
Man of the Match: Inih Effiong.