Boreham Wood v Yeovil Town
Saturday 29th April 2023, 5.30pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League
The 2022/23 Vanarama National League season is finally coming to a close, but the Wood will be hoping their can stretch their campaign to May with a point required to clinch a place in the play-offs, and they will hoping to get it as they host already-relegated Yeovil Town.
IN FOCUS: YEOVIL TOWN
Yeovil Town have faced a rapid descent down the divisions over the last decade, and defeat against Wrexham last week saw their immediate future lie below the National League with relegation being confirmed at the Racecourse Ground. Having reached the Championship with victory over Brentford in the 2013 League One play-off final, things couldn’t look any different for both sides ten years on. While the Bees find themselves tenth in the Premier League with a six-point gap to the Europa Conference League spot, the Glovers are set to embark on their first campaign in the sixth tier since 1997 after goals from Anthony Forde, Joey Jones and Paul Mullin condemned Mark Cooper’s men to their fate after a dismal campaign. Cooper indeed came in with plenty of degree and pedigree at the right end of the table after replacing Chris Hargreaves in October, having picked up three promotions while with Kettering Town and Forest Green Rovers, but he has been unable to replicate that success at Huish Park and has won just six of his 34 games in charge, with a 17.6% win ratio.
The Glovers were already dealt a difficult hand ahead of the season when they lost the likes of Dale Gorman, Luke Wilkinson, Tom Knowles and Adi Yussuf in the summer, and they responded by blending a mix of youth and experience in the shape of Owen Bevan and Alex Fisher being joined by fellow summer recruits Malachi Linton, Chiori Johnson and Jamie Reckord, and this initial set of National League experience was expanded on with the mid-season arrivals of former Wood loanee Andrew Oluwabori, Charlie Cooper and Jordan Maguire-Drew. A poor run of form followed the January transfer window though, and convinced the Glovers to bring in additional reinforcements with a number of young players making the move to Somerset, including Jordan Young, Ryan Law, Jordan Stevens, Josh Owers, Reo Griffiths, Jack Clarke, Scott Pollock, Miguel Freckleton and Zanda Siziba. However, this failed to have the desired impact and the whopping 37 players brought in during the season were unable to stop the slide down the table, with goals being a particular sore spot for Cooper’s men with their tally of 35 being lower than anyone else in the division. As a result, the Somerset-based outfit will compete in the sixth tier for the first time since before the turn of the century, and they will be looking to make some wholesale changes that will prevent their slide from becoming even worse in the near future.
LAST TIME OUT
Oldham Athletic 0-3 Yeovil Town
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Vanarama National League
Yeovil Town fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Oldham Athletic in the final fixture at Huish Park this campaign.
The Glovers never really got going in another timid performance from the already relegated side, and it didn’t take long for Oldham to stamp their authority on the game and the scoreline as Jamie Reckord switched off at the back post to allow Devarn Green to fire home the opener with just eight minutes on the clock. In terms of attacking play, Yeovil offered very little, with the majority of efforts coming from distance, although Charlie Cooper proved the dangerman whenever they did look to threaten, and seemed the most likely source of an attack. His free kick with 33 minutes played was delivered dangerously across the box, but there was nobody waiting to poke home. Cooper would be involved again moments later though from another dead ball, but as he went for goal this time he could only put the ball in the away end behind the goal.
The second half saw Mark Cooper make a change as Reckord was sacrificed with Max Hunt coming on in his place, which shifted Miguel Freckleton to left-back, but in truth, this changed very little as Oldham continued to ease their way through the game. With 74 minutes played, substitute Mike Fondop added a second for the visitors after the Green and Whites’ defence was carved open, which Fondop being found unmarked to poke the ball beyond Smith. With moments left, Fondop had his second of the afternoon, with a quick free kick catching the Yeovil defence off guard as he slammed home the final goal of the afternoon to see the game end 3-0, in what was a drab end to a disappointing season at Huish Park.
Oldham Athletic (H) L0-3
Wrexham (A) L3-0
Solihull Moors (A) D2-2
Dorking Wanderers (H) L0-1
Aldershot Town (A) D1-1
Gateshead (A) L4-0
With just three wins in 2023, Yeovil Town have seen a rapid slide down the division which saw their relegation confirmed with two games to go, and was inevitable following a run of 11 games without a win. Indeed, this streak was stretched to six games at the hands of fellow relegation battlers Gateshead, who’s 4-0 thumping of the Glovers thanks to goals from Marcus Dinanga, Connor Pani and Owen Bailey perhaps signalled the beginning of the end of their time in the fifth tier. Although the did pick up two draws in three games against Aldershot Town and Solihull Moors, this signalled another disappointing defeat against another relegation threatened side in Dorking Wanderers, who secured a narrow victory at Huish Park after a late Jason Prior strike. Their relegation was then confirmed when Wrexham took a big leap towards the league title with goals from Anthony Forde, Joey Jones and Paul Mullin sealed a 3-0 victory, whilst simultaneously condemning their opponents to their date at the other end of the table, as a four-season stint in the National League came to an end. Even with nothing to play for the Glovers couldn’t buy a point, with Oldham Athletic securing another comfortable victory last time out, but Mark Cooper’s men will be looking for one last hurrah as the season reaches its close, with the possibility of preventing the Wood from clinching their play-off place.
IN THE DUGOUT: MARK COOPER
Mark Cooper arrived at Huish Park with a wealth of experience and promotion pedigree, having replaced outgoing manager Chris Hargreaves in October. After a successful playing career with the likes of Birmingham City, Exeter City and Fulham, Cooper began his management career with Tamworth in 2004 whilst they competed in the Conference, before taking on his second management role was with Kettering Town where he tasted promotion for the first time, winning the Conference North title by 17 points. His success with the Poppies saw Peterborough United opt to name him Darren Ferguson’s successor, and he made a big jump up to a Championship job for the 2009/10 season, although he failed to last beyond February. Nonetheless, his time with Kettering saw him maintain his reputation as an attractive option, and he later joined Darlington where he won the 2010/11 FA Trophy. A brief return to Latimer Park followed before a stint at AFC Telford United, but he found more success when he joined Swindon Town, and in his first season at the helm, he finished in 8th place before leading the Robins to the League One play-off final a year later. Two years at the County Ground preceded a brief switch to Notts County, before a notable move to Forest Green Rovers saw him guide the Gloucestershire-based outfit to the Football League for the first time in their history, winning 101 games during his five-year stint with the club. The Green’s form under his leadership convinced League Two rivals Barrow to name him their manager, before he opted to return to the South West with Yeovil after a little under a year.
ONE TO WATCH: JOSH STAUNTON
Versatile defensive-minded player Josh Staunton joined Yeovil Town in 2020, arriving from FC Halifax Town. The 27-year old came through the ranks at Gillingham and went on to sign for Charlton Athletic following a loan spell with Maidstone United, and went on to enjoy further stints back in the National League with Dagenham & Redbridge, Woking and then Halifax. Known to play in both in the defence and in holding midfield roles, Staunton established himself as a reliable figure at fifth tier level, and his move to Yeovil saw him exceed 200 National League appearances, with a further 81 coming after his move to Huish Park. This could have been more if not for a season-ending injury suffered in late 2021, but after fighting back, Staunton captured the hearts of Yeovil fans during the following campaign, becoming vice-captain as the Glovers enjoyed a memorable run to the FA Cup Third Round. He then became the youngest manager to win a National League game when he was named interim manager of the club, and led the team to a 1-0 victory over Altrincham on the final day of the 2021/22 campaign. Staunton opted to commit his future to the club in the summer of 2022, and was later appointed the permanent captain following the departure of Luke Wilkinson to Woking
LAST TIME WE MET
Yeovil Town 1-1 Boreham Wood
Saturday 24th September 2022
Vanarama National League
The Wood and continued their unbeaten away record as goals at either end of the first half from Alex Fisher and Jack Payne secured a 1-1 draw
The early stages were certainly slow with little difference between the two sides, but the game quickly began to liven up once it got beyond the opening ten minutes, with Sam Pearson forcing Payne into an excellent last ditch challenge, shortly before the Wood had a chance themselves with Elliott blasting over from close range after being picked out by Femi Ilesamni. The Glovers began to dominate proceedings and forced Ashmore into a number of crucial saves with Gimé Touré going close, before he twice denied Charlie Wakefield along with Matt Worthington from distance as they looked to break the deadlock. Ashmore impressed for much of the half and was important at keeping Yeovil at bay, but the Glovers’ opener is something he won’t want to see again, as he made a good save to deny Touré’s initial effort but it bounced right back into the danger area, where Fisher was waiting to meet the rebound and put his side ahead. Yeovil would have surely thought they would go into the break with a deserved lead, but it wasn’t all plain sailing as the Wood popped up late on to change the half time team talks with a unexpected equaliser. Following some neat combination play between Tyrone Marsh and Dennon Lewis, the latter teed up Payne who calmly rolled the ball past Grant Smith from the edge of the box, netting his first goal for the club to send the two sides into the break level.
With such a short-lived lead and with such little time remaining of the first half, it was very much a sucker-punch for the Glovers who wouldn’t want to remain level for long. It took them just six minutes into the second half to test Ashmore once more as Lawson D’Ath tried his luck with a fierce effort from distance, but the Wood stopper was behind it with an acrobatic save. He would be forced into another good save minutes later as the hosts went even closer to restoring their lead with Sam Pearson being denied once again from close range, with Dion Kelly-Evans meeting the ball first to clear with Fisher ready to pounce on the loose ball. Fisher would soon have his chance at doubling his tally for the afternoon, but Ashmore denied him from point blank range following a corner before the ball was cleared, and the tension in the ground began to increase as the game reached its conclusion. Yeovil refused to give up hope of re-establishing their lead though, as Fisher would be denied once again after his free header went straight at Ashmore. The same could be said for Ben Richards-Everton, who’s effort from the edge of the box was comfortably gathered by the Wood number one, who proved to be a thorn in the side of Yeovil throughout and prevented them from taking all three points.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? JAMIE RECKORD
A seasoned veteran, Jamie Reckord joined Yeovil Town following his departure from the Wood after a successful stint in Hertfordshire. The defender progressed through the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers and made just a couple of appearances for the first team, with loan spells at Northampton Town, Scunthorpe United, Coventry City, Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town seeing him gain experience early on. Following his release from Molineux he went on to feature for Ross County, Oldham Athletic, Solihull Moors and Wrexham, racking up over 100 appearances at National League level with the latter two. This convinced the Wood to bring him to Hertfordshire during the 2022 January transfer window, adding plenty of experience to a side battling at the top of the table. He would feature a handful of times for the club as they ended the season down in tenth place, but he will look back on his time at the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park fondly, with the Wood’s run to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup proving to be the highlight of the campaign. He would depart the club at the end of the season and made the switch to Somerset, making 32 appearances as the club were relegated to the National League South.
OUR CLUB. OUR TOWN. OUR COMMUNITY.