Boreham Wood v Wealdstone
Saturday 15th April 2023, 3.00pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National Leagu
With just four games remaining of the 2022/23 Vanarama National League season, the Wood will be looking to cement their place in the play-offs and welcome rivals Wealdstone on Saturday.
IN FOCUS: WEALDSTONE
The Stones are a side on the rise after ending a 32-year absence from the fifth tier. Wealdstone were named champions of the National League South following a successful 2019/20 season, albeit on a points-per-game basis due to the suspension of the campaign following the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, Dean Brennan’s side were well-deserving of silverware and subsequently began the 2020/21 campaign positively, eventually finishing the season in 19th place. Brennan would depart Grosvenor Vale in February 2021 with assistant Stuart Maynard remaining in Ruislip, and he guided the club to their highest league position in 35 years with a 16th place finish last season which they will have looked to use as a platform into the current campaign.
With just eight teams scoring less goals than the Stones last season, they looked to add quality to their ranks in the summer with current top scorer Olufela Olomola being joined by Max Kretzschmar, Tarryn Allarakhia, Micah Obiero and Dominic Hutchinson, while they also strengthened at the back with the arrivals of Lewis Kinsella, Sam Habergham and Charlie Barker. This saw the Royals enjoy their best start to a season since their title-winning campaign of 2019/20 with just goal difference separating them from the play-off places by the turn of the year, with victory over Maidenhead United on Boxing Day seeing them enter 2023 in ninth place. Unfortunately a poor run of form in recent weeks saw them slip away from the top seven, and with a number of mid-season reinforcements in the shape of loan signings Sonny Blu Lo-Everton, Tarrelle Whittaker and Lewis Simper joining the Stones along with Corie Andrews and Charles Clayden on permanent deals, Maynard’s men will be hoping for one last push towards a play-off spot as they look to defy the odds and reach the promised land of the Football League.
LAST TIME OUT
Notts County 3-0 Wealdstone
Friday 7th April 2023
Vanarama National League
A valiant away effort saw Wealdstone fall to a 3-0 defeat to title-chasing Notts County at Meadow Lane on Good Friday.
Unfortunately for the Stones, any boost or hope of an upset was extinguished early on as Stones captain Jack Cook misplaced a pass to Charlie Barker which was collected by Macauley Langstaff, who rolled the ball to Sam Austin who swerved past Sam Howes on eight minutes to see the Magpies race into the lead. Wealdstone weren’t fazed by the goal deficit and went close twice when Sam Habergham had a close range header blocked and Olufela Olomola had an effort spilled by County keeper Archie Mair, before the hosts looked to extend their advantage through Langstaff, who was denied a goal when his header crashed off the post before Howes made a great double save to deny Austin and then Langstaff moments later. The Stones keeper later denied the forward again just before half time, but the striker notched his 41st goal of the season moments into the second half.
Keen to put the result beyond doubt, the hosts got off to a lightening quick start after the break when a long ball forward was missed by Alex Dyer allowing Langstaff a clear run at goal and he made no mistake this time, slotting past Howes and breaking the 40-goal record Dover Athletic forward Ricky Miller set in 2017. From this point on, Wealdstone couldn’t rally and the hosts added a third with 14 minutes to go when Howes again got down well to deny Austin, but Frank Vincent made no mistake with the rebound to wrap up the scoring and seal all three points.
Notts County (A) L3-0
Oldham Athletic (H) D2-2
Barnet (H) L0-2
Scunthorpe United (A) L4-1
Chesterfield (H) L0-4
Torquay United (A) W1-2
Although the Stones have enjoyed a largely successful campaign, a poor run of form in recent weeks has seen them slip away from the play-off places and they will be looking to improve this in the final few games of the season. A late goal from Micah Obiero sealed all three points over Torquay United to make it three wins on the bounce, but this would be the last time they tasted victory as of now with four losses from their next five outings. Promotion hopefuls Chesterfield put four past Stuart Maynard’s men in a disappointing encounter, and this seemingly knocked the stuffing out of the Stones with relegation threatened Scunthorpe United giving them déjà vu, as goals from Cameron Wilson, Will Smith and Jake Leake condemned them to eight goals against from two games. This would be followed up by defeat at the hands of rivals Barnet, and although a point against Oldham Athletic gave them a glimmer of hope, defeat against title contenders Notts County meant they come into Saturday’s game in poor form, and they will be looking to rectify this sooner rather than later.
IN THE DUGOUT: STUART MAYNARD
Stuart Maynard was unveiled as Wealdstone’s new manager earlier in 2021, having taken over as caretaker boss after the departure of Dean Brennan. As a player for the Stones during the 1990’s, Maynard is a popular figure around Grosvenor Vale and returned to the club in 2019 as part of the backroom staff to Brennan, helping the club secure the National League South title in his first season before guiding the club to a 19th place finish in his first season as manager. He followed that up by achieving the Stones’ highest league position in 35 years, with a 16th place finish last season that was rewarded with a contract extension last May.
ONE TO WATCH: MAX KRETSCHMAR
Having initially spent time with the Southampton academy, Max Kretzshmar graduated from the Wycombe Wanderers youth setup and featured for the Chairboys over four years. After being released, a 20-goal haul in 2017/18 for Hampton & Richmond Borough was sandwiched in between two spells at Woking, helping the club stay in the National League with a goal in a 1-1 draw with Dagenham & Redbridge that secured their survival in 2016/17 before returning in 2018, where he helped them win promotion back to the National League via the play-offs. He has played over 100 times for the Cards, before opting to depart for Wealdstone last summer. He has proved to be a bright spark for the Stones this season, scoring six goals from midfield in 29 appearances.
LAST TIME WE MET
Boreham Wood 5-3 Wealdstone
Saturday 15th October 2022
Vanarama National League
Cameron Coxe marked his Wood debut with his first goal for the club, helping to secure victory in the Wood’s first FA Cup match since the defeat at Everton at the Fifth Round stage last season, overcoming Wealdstone in the Fourth Qualifying Round.
Coxe was involved immediately as an early chance came from his long throw-in found Tyrone Marsh, with Sam Howes equal to what was a tame effort from close range, but the Wood looked the better of the two sides and bossed possession during the opening 20 minutes without producing many meaningful chances as Wealdstone remained resilient at the back. They would soon take the lead though as George Broadbent received the ball 20 yards from goal before sending a low drive past Howes; the ball destined to hit the back of the net from the moment it left his boot. This opened the floodgates for the Wood and they soon made it two when Zak Brunt converted a penalty just four minutes later, with the midfielder making amends for a skied free kick moments earlier. He did well to make his way into the box before being fouled by Cook, proceeding to unleash a powerful shot into the roof of the net to increase the deficit. The Wood were in the ascendancy and went close to a third when Femi Ilesmani sent a long free kick to the feet of Marsh, who’s initial shot rebounded into the path of Coxe who fired over the crossbar, but a dominant first half soon came to an end with the hosts two goals to the good.
Wealdstone had struggled to create any opportunities throughout the opening 45 minutes, but immediately showed they weren’t down and out with a first chance for the visitors. A cross from the right-hand side looked to produce chaos in the area with the Wood needing to clear. The Stones continued to put pressure on, and went even closer to pulling a goal back shortly before the hour-mark when Dominic Hutchinson sent an effort wide of Nathan Ashmore’s near post, before the hosts hit back with Brunt floating a cross into the danger area which Will Evans volleyed goalward, failing to trouble Howes. They would soon have their third goal though, with Coxe combining with Lewis to finish off a lovely move as the Colchester loanee found himself in acres of space to spread the ball over to Lewis on the other side, before making his way into the penalty area to get on the end of the subsequent cross and give the Wood even more breathing room. However, Olufela Olomola flicked home at the near post instantly to reduce the deficit and begin an unlikely comeback for the visitors, with Giovani McGregor almost adding a second from a free kick. They would prove to rue this miss as Danny Newton added gloss to the scoreline moments later when he made his way towards the byline before lashing a powerful effort into the far top corner from a tight angle to make it four. Wealdstone continued to battle though, and substitute Simeon Akinola halved the deficit once more from close range moments before Olomola got on the end of McGregor’s pass to tap into an empty net, notching his second of the afternoon. Tensions were high, with the visitors looking the most likely to score the next goal, but luckily substitute Danny Elliott soon made the win safe when he calmly slotted past Howes deep into stoppage time to finally bring a crazy second half to a close.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? SIMEON AKINOLA
Nigeria-born forward Simeon Akinola moved to Madrid as the age of three, and subsequently began his footballing career with AD Alcorcón after a successful trial. However he later moved to London, and this paved a way for him to kick-start his career in England with Boreham Wood snapping up the youngster in 2009, with Akinola spending two years in the club’s academy before he made his senior debut in January 2011, having scored 53 goals in the reserves to earn his promotion to the first team. He would go on to turn out 21 times for the Wood, with loan moves to Billericay Town and Harrow Borough soon signalling the end of his brief time at the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, as he soon joined the latter on a permanent basis in 2012. Further moves to Braintree Town, Barnet and Southend United saw him carve out a career in the National League and rack up more than 230 appearances, and he added Wealdstone to his list of employers when he made the switch to Grosvenor Vale in October 2022, getting off the mark on the same day with a debut goal against former club Boreham Wood.
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