Blue Square Bet South
Chelmsford City 2 Boreham Wood 1
by John Mead
Defeat on this occasion left a bitter taste in the mouth for Wood, who turned in a fine performance against fellow high fliers City. Defending superbly throughout they relinquished a lead that they should have doubled before the equaliser, then being beaten by an individual effort out of nothing to go behind. Yet thereafter it was Wood who got into the goal scoring positions missing some fine opportunities to grab the three points that their performance merited.
The first half was played in a swirling wind that drove the rain at right angles to the ground. Wood won the toss, chose to go with wind assistance in the second half, then found the advantage missing as the weather took on a more temperate bias after the interval.
Mark Jones blocked well to deny Jamie Slabber an early advantage for the home side. Donovan Simmonds then showed good skill to pass two defenders setting up Sam Corcoran whose effort was excellently blocked by Charlie O’Loughlin. Greg Morgan, one of three ex-Clarets in the Wood side, then supplied another, Cliff Akurang, whose low curling effort was just smothered at the right hand post by Stuart Searle. Mario Noto, the third Wood player to have featured at Melbourne Park, had his best game since returning from injury. He was tripped when breaking free to earn Corcoran one of only two bookings of the game.
Mauro Vilhete had his on target shot saved before Aiden Palmer’s speculative effort for The Clarets went wide. A further save by Searle from Akurang left the first half goalless. Wood attacked with purpose and pace after the break. Callum Reynolds’ clearing header set Omer Riza off towards goal yet he lost control at the vital moment.
It was no more than Wood deserved when they pounced upon an awry midfield pass to take the lead. Vilhete fed Chez Isaac whose superb lofted shot came back into play off of the crossbar, falling for Riza whose predatory instincts allowed him to pick his spot with a definitive side footed finish to after fifty-five minutes.
Four minutes later the game should have been over as a contest. A brilliant run from Omar Beckles down the right led to a fine cross field ball finding Akurang in space, yet he took it on his weaker foot and shot wide with Searle exposed. The Wood lead lasted eight minutes, the equaliser coming from the home side’s first shot on target. A long throw from Justin Miller on the right into a crowded area was blasted home acrobatically by Anthony Cook to lift The Clarets. Yet two minutes later Wood were ruing another miss. Beckles cross hit Palmer falling for Riza who rushed his shot, slicing the effort when a little composure would have allowed him to realise his potential.
Dave Rainford missed the only real other chance that Glenn Pennyfather’s side created when he shot across goal, after being unlocked at the left hand post by Palmer’s free kick.
Wood continued to look the likelier to score, with a Jones run and shot, before Vilhete burst through the defence losing his footing at the vital moment. Then came the killer blow with twelve minutes remaining. Richard Brindley knocked down for Substitute Kyle Vassell, whom with seemingly nothing on hit a contender for goal of the Season, not only at Melbourne Park but possibly in the League. A fierce left footed drive with little back lift beat James Russell, finding the top left hand corner of the net.
Again Wood came back with a brilliant move. Akurang and Vilhete exchanged four passes through the middle of the park teeing up Morgan for a pin point cross to the back post for the unmarked Isaac. He switched the ball onto his right foot before scuffing his shot and another chance went begging. Jones was sacrificed as Ian Allinson went with three up front and it manifested the miss of the match. Morgan’s corner from the left found Akurang on the line who somehow failed to apply the finishing touch.
With City left defending their lead Luke Norris headed at Searle, before turning in the box and having his shot blocked. Searle was alert to rush out and snatch the ball from the marauding Vilhete as the final whistle left Wood gallant in defeat, according to Ian Allinson.
“We played better today than at Farnborough when we won 0 – 3, so that shows how disappointed we are. I have spoken to the players and the fact of the matter is we need to be more ruthless in front of goal to take the pressure off the back four. We did more than enough to win this game comfortably against top quality opposition. After today we are convinced we fear nobody in this League. We have the players to do it and we now have three of our next four at home. Nothing less than a win against Staines Town on New Year’s Day is acceptable.”
Team: Russell, Beckles, Jones (Sub – Norris 82 mins.), Morgan, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Vilhete, Isaac, Akurang, Riza (Sub – Montgomery 84 mins.), Noto.
Subs (Not used): Close, Hutton, Hastings.
Goals: Chelmsford City: Cook 63, Vassell 78. Boreham Wood: Riza 55.
Man of the Match: Omar Beckles.