Boreham Wood 1 West Ham United 1
by John Mead
Wood gave a very good account of themselves in this showcase Season opener against Premiership opposition. It was a hugely successful venture that was not taken lightly by the visitors, with owner David Gold, Manager Sam Allardyce and his huge backroom team all in attendance.
The Hammers paraded their latest Trophy for those not at Wembley in May, before Pelly Ruddock was given the opportunity to Captain the visitors for the first half, since joining the East London top flight outfit from Wood’s PASE Scheme last Season. Given that he was playing alongside Ricardo Vaz Te, Mark Noble, Sam Baldock, George McCartney and Jussi Jaaskelainen it was an honourable gesture and a quite brilliant advertisement for the success that the PASE Scheme at Boreham Wood is breeding.
Vaz Te’s early deflected shot went for a corner and Noble’s resultant corner was a real early test for the Wood defence. A fine ball forward from McCartney found Vaz Te whose mesmerising run set up George Moncur who unleashed an exquisite rising drive that brought a superb diving save from Wood’s new signing James Russell, who had set the Ryman Football League alight last Season with Canvey Island.
Chez Isaac then shot over the bar from a corner won by Omer Riza. Isaac showed the same qualities throughout the game as during his Loan spell from Watford early last Season and looks every inch a very good acquisition.
Luke Garrard showed Vaz Te that a name counts for nothing shackling the star that entertained so brilliantly for Allardyce in the second half of last Season. David Hutton delivered a superb corner finding Callum Reynolds unmarked, who headed just over, showing the visitors that they were in a game.
The dangerous combination of Baldock and Vaz Te up front was one that would eventually reap dividends. After twenty-five minutes Baldock was presented a fine shooting opportunity, yet hit the base of the post with his effort. Two minutes later Vaz Te held off the challenges of Garrard before presenting the ex-MK Dons striker with an even better chance that he lifted over Russell to give the Hammers the advantage.
Russell then denied Baldock a second with a fine save at his near post, before Wood went on the offensive. Jaaskelainen was tested to the limit by Graeme Montgomery’s curling left footed effort. The Hammers’ close Season replacement for Robert Green was again in action two minutes later stooping low to parry a long range Mark Jones effort.
Inih Effiong replaced Elliott Buchanan for the second half, whilst West Ham United sent out a fresh eleven featuring Winston Reid, Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor who amassed over 100 Championship League appearances last Season between them.
Nolan almost caught the Wood defence napping within seconds of the restart just failing to finish past Russell after creeping in at the far post. The Wood response was devastating for the visiting fans. A poor back pass from Eoin Wearen was snapped up by Riza who slid in Effiong to coolly place his shot beyond Jake Larkins in the Hammers goal.
The goal bolstered Ian Allinson’s men who enjoyed a purple spell with the ball, giving Allinson the opportunity to introduce four of the up and coming PASE players as the game progressed.
Hutton rode two challenges before threading a ball for Effiong who was just beaten on the edge of the area by the alert Larkins. Immediately the Iron counter attacked with Nicky Maynard forcing a fine save from Russell who blocked with his legs. Nolan was then stopped in his tracks by the superb Reynolds who was outstanding on the night playing alongside triallist Ben Nunn, who spent three years at Chelmsford City and looked a useful replacement for the departed Osei Sankofa.
Russell again kept the honours even after Nolan kept a left sided cross in play, before shots from Montgomery then Reynolds from a left sided Hutton corner left Wood close to what would have been an incredible victory.
Taylor’s superb cross from the left crashed against the upright angle with Nolan almost forcing it home from close range as the game entered stoppage time. One last assault from the Premiership side came from a long range low drive that Russell could only parry. It fell for Maynard who blasted wide with the goal begging, leaving Ian Allinson a very happy man at the final whistle.
“We have continued in the same vein as the end of last Season. A lot of the players know what is expected of them and it showed tonight. We have acquired a fine ‘keeper in twenty-five year old James Russell who comes highly recommended and is at the right age. The performance may have come as a surprise to those who are not aware of us, but with one or two more additions to strengthen the depth of the Squad we are heading in the right direction.”
Team: Russell, Nunn (ub – Close 61 mins.), Jones, Noto (Sub – Hastings 76 mins.), Garrard, Reynolds (Sub – Doolan 82 mins.), Hutton, Isaac, Riza (Sub – Scott-Morris 61 mins.), Buchanan (Sub – Effiong 45 mins.), Montgomery.
Sub (Not used): Baker-Owers.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Effiong 51. West Ham United: Baldock 27.