Blue Square Bet South
Dartford 1 Boreham Wood 4
by John Mead
Mario Noto hit a superb hat-trick to ease Wood towards safety on an emotionally charged afternoon at the superb Princes Park. This was Wood’s third victory in their four visits to the Stadium since it opened in November 2006, yet none was more important than this.
The Darts had lost just once at home this year and started the game playing for pride having secured their survival since winning the Ryman Football League Premier Division last Season. In front of a partisan crowd of over 1,100 they showed initially that this would be a tough encounter.
James Rodgers went close with a fine twenty-five yard effort after six minutes, yet Wood responded immediately with home ‘keeper Andrew Young forced to race off his line and smother to thwart David Bryant.
Wood were on the back foot when Lee Noble beat Mike Cestor on the goal line down the right and advanced towards goal. Cestor responded by taking the heels of the midfielder gifting The Darts with a clear penalty. Up stepped Charlie Sheringham, who having missed a spot kick the previous week, saw his well struck effort saved by a brilliant stop from Elvijs Putnins who went low to his right to repel and then smother after eleven minutes. This seemed to subdue the home side somewhat giving Wood the opportunity to lead from the back, which they did with maximum effect.
Young Referee Mr. Hillier had several decisions to make and seemingly upset both sets of supporters throughout the game, so much so that the home fans stayed behind to express their displeasure.
Jack Pallen shot wide after a quickly taken free kick before Wood started enforce their presence helped by another superb performance from Michael Kamara. His run down the right allowed Noto to set up Luke Garrard who lofted his volley over the bar. Important interventions from Alan Inns and Kamara kept The Darts at bay as their main threat came from set pieces.
Having survived one penalty Wood were then subjected to a second, courtesy of a strange over reaction from Mr. Hillier. Billy Burgess delivered from the right onto the box and there looked nothing untoward as Inns and Tom Bonner went shoulder to shoulder. However Inns received a bizarre yellow card before Sheringham atoned for his earlier miss, this time aiming to the right which left Putnins with no chance.
Retribution came just four minutes later in the 43rd minute. Wood won a free kick twenty-five yards out on the right of the penalty area. Noto hit a low drive through the wall that Young could only watch as it bulged the back of his net. At half time a point was perceived as a good haul, yet Wood emerged to take full control of proceedings. They gained the advantage through a wonder strike from Noto after 51 minutes. Having won a corner through a shot from Bryant that was blocked, the ball ran out for a throw on, on the right. Noto received the ball fully thirty yards out, swivelling to set himself up on his unfavoured left foot to hit a quite superb arcing drive that left Young punching the air as the ball dipped hitting the underside of the bar before crossing the line.
Ryan Moran did well to cut out the threat of Jack Pallen and Elliot Bradbrook down the right, before the same pair were thwarted by Kamara, who conceded a corner from which Goodacre headed just wide.
Bradbrook and Pallen had one last chance to get their side back into the game setting up Sheringham who volleyed onto the side netting before Wood wrapped up the game. Elliott Godfrey delivered a corner from the right which was flicked on by Inns for Bryant who was upended from behind by Burgess.
Noto stepped up to complete his hat-trick from the spot sending Young the wrong way after 67 minutes. Three minutes later and the capitulation of in form Dartford was complete. Bryant played a one two with Godfrey down the left. Godfrey’s superbly measured return pass sent the Wood forward into the penalty area and he timed his finish to perfection slotting home across Young.
Cestor was booked after being body checked in one of the most bizarre decisions seen all Season. The questionable Mr. Hillier then tried to run the rule over a mass brawl, a product of the coming together of Gareth Risbridger and Tom Bonner in an off the ball incident. Lee Burns was singled out with a red card for his part in the after math as the home side’s afternoon went from bad to worse.
Wood are now six points above the drop zone and have a far superior goal difference to their rivals with just nine points to play for.
Wood Manager Ian Allinson summarised, “I thought we were poor first half and I told the lads at half time to get the ball down and play around them. They are a big outfit and will punish you aerially. I reminded everybody that I believed we were stronger and fitter and we certainly finished the stronger outfit. That was exemplified by David Bryant’s goal, after a truly magical strike from Mario. You can pin your hat on him and on the big occasion he will deliver.” Ian had a special mention for his central defenders and his attentive keeper! “I read the programme and noticed that Sheringham hits his penalties low to the right of the ‘keeper. I told Elvijs and he listened! In front of him I had two central defenders that have not played regularly in Alan Inns and Ryan Moran. I needed big headers today and they were both immense.”
Team: Putnins, Kamara, Cestor, Moran, Inns, Garrard, Risbridger (Sub – Maledon 88 mins.), Godfrey, Bryant (Sub – Sogbanmu 74 mins.), Noto, Nicolau (Sub – Brathwaite 88 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Wilkinson, Baker-Owers.
Bookings: Bryant, Cestor, Risbridger.
Goals: Dartford: Sheringham 40 pen. Boreham Wood: Noto 43, 51, 67 pen., Bryant 70.
Man of the Match: Mario Noto.