Blue Square Bet South
Boreham Wood 0 Havant & Waterlooville 1
by John Mead
A disastrous start to the game saw Wood concede after just two minutes, losing their talismanic midfielder Luke Garrard through injury into the bargain, which was given the quality of the opposition a situation they were never going to recover from.
With Captain Mario Noto already sidelined through injury, the loss of Garrard after his first minute injury left Ian Allinson’s side somewhat rudderless. Thankfully Luke Wilkinson stepped up to the plate to ensure that an embarrassing rout did not materialise, with some exceptional defending.
The visitors looked assured and performed as a tight unit, something that on the day Wood could only dream of. Quicker to the ball, they broke up play and peppered the Wood goal mouth with a string of corners and immense throw-ins from Jon McDonald, who creates a trajectory and pace that will haunt defences.
Ironically Garrard picked up his knee injury in Wood’s first attack shooting just over, before Havant took the lead with their first attack. Craig Braham-Barrett crossed low from the left. Wes Fogden along with the Wood defence failed to make contact allowing Lee Peacock a previous half a million pound signing for Manchester City the chance to fire home into the top corner of the net on his debut.
This forced Wood to defend deep as without Garrard they failed dismally to make an impact on the game. The Hawks were relentless until Daryl McMahon took the pressure off when Wood were awarded a free kick on the right some thirty yards out. He cleverly sold the defence a dummy with his expected cross, instead hitting a curling shot to the near post that cannoned back into play off the right hand post.
Wood conceded corner after corner yet somehow the visitors failed to add to their tally. The closest they came was from a curling effort from Paul Hinshelwood that Elvijs Putnins flung himself full stretch at.
Ollie Palmer replaced Inih Effiong after 62 minutes and his first touch saw him break through on goal from a Darren Currie throw in, before laying into the path of Pelly Ruddock. The seventeen year old drew a fine stop from Nathan Ashmore. Palmer was then on hand five minutes later to clear a Jon McDonald effort off the line at the other end after some poor defending from Osei Sankofa led to Putnins dropping the ball.
Wood were now finally in the contest and Palmer had a glimpse of goal through a deflected ball shooting at Ashmore, before heading against the crossbar at the second attempt. Then Currie drifted past several challenges before seeing his shot blocked.
Peacock had a late header saved by Putnins as the visitors eventually held out for what could have been an easier three points.
For Wood boss Ian Allinson it was “a reasonable score line given our first half showing. That said I felt we had the better chances whilst they had the majority of the possession and to their credit they closed us down well. We are missing five key players now and that possibly left us short in some areas. We did not play well, yet we did not get battered, in a game where we were forced deep and gave the ball away for fun. We now need to dust ourselves down in preparation for the trip to Bromley on Tuesday.”
It is expected that David Bryant and James Smith will again be available for selection in time for Tuesday’s match in Kent.
Team: Putnins, Sankofa, Brathwaite, Hunter, Wilkinson, O’Loughlin, Ruddock, Garrard (Sub – Chaaban 6 mins.), Effiong (Sub – Palmer 62 mins.), McMahon, Currie.
Subs (Not used): Yala, Lawal, Jordan.
Bookings: Sankofa, McMahon.
Goal: Havant & Waterlooville: Peacock 2.
Man of the Match: Luke Wilkinson.