Blue Square Bet South
Boreham Wood 1 Staines Town 1
by John Mead
It was the turn of Dr. Jekyll to show his face on a disappointing afternoon at Meadow Park. It was hoped that Mr. Hyde would make his second consecutive appearance after a good solid performance away against a strong Chelmsford City outfit three days earlier, but it was not to be as Wood again failed to turn their majority of possession into three points against an average Staines Town outfit.
Two draws against Staines Town and the narrow defeat in Essex spells a meagre festive period for Ian Allinson’s side. Now eleven points behind second placed Welling United, this was Wood’s eighth draw in the League, a statistic that means they hold onto the last Play-off place, just.
Again the defence did nothing wrong, excepting losing their shape to concede a cheap equaliser. However the reason for the dip in form is clear for all to see. It took sixty-three minutes to give Jack Turner in the Staines Town goal something to think about, which led to the opener. Thereafter he blocked two certain goals, whilst James Russell in the Wood goal was called upon just three times all afternoon, being beaten on one occasion.
Given that the visitors arrived on the back of a 0 – 6 hammering at home, Wood Boss Ian Allinson drew a frustrated figure in front of the dugout. The team with the worst defensive record in the League against the best made this result altogether one to forget. “We need to turn these draws into wins and fast if we are to continue to hold our Play-off place. Again today we had two superb chances to get our second goal, yet we failed to convert and allowed them back into the game with sloppy defending.”
On the balance of play it seemed only a matter of time before the floodgates would open for Wood. However the early goal and its massive boost of required confidence never came. Mauro Vilhete and Omer Riza both found their range early on, denied by defensive blocks, with Riza’s effort cleared off the line. Mark Jones was involved in a fine sweeping move and his curling ball forward was met by Riza who headed wide, the Town defence carved open.
Vilhete then darted past several challenges into The Swans penalty area sending a telling low ball across goal which needed only the merest of touches, yet nobody had read the move. Callum Reynolds then back heeled across goal from a Greg Morgan corner but there was no fox in the box available. Vilhete was guilty of running into danger rather than releasing another forward on occasions. The lack of cohesion and understanding in the final third was ultimately the prime factor for dropping two points on the afternoon.
Marcus Gayle’s decision to replace Max Worsfold with ex-Wood defender and late arrival on the afternoon Jerel Ifil with just twenty-seven minutes played, allowed his two wide defenders to push on, supported by Ifil aka The Beast in a back three. It was a brave move given Wood’s penchant for counter attacking football, but on this occasion it paid off, stifling the freedom hitherto enjoyed by both Morgan and Vilhete on the flanks.
Elliott Godfrey hit the crossbar with Russell beaten after thirty-two minutes, the ex-Wood player looking the keenest to impress amongst the visitors. Wood finally took the lead midway through the second half when Morgan cut inside from the left, running across the edge of the area before hitting a shot that Turner could only parry. Luke Norris with his first real contribution of the afternoon was quick to react and did precisely what centre forwards are primed to do, slotting home to the relief of the Wood fans.
Cliff Akurang replaced Riza as Wood looked for the important second goal, but on this occasion the substitution proved fruitless. Mario Noto flashed a shot across goal before Norris had his shot blocked, the ball falling at the feet of Akurang who shot straight at Turner from just six yards. David Wheeler then got a shot off from under his feet which tested Russell at the other end.
Turner then scuppered a superb effort from Norris who swivelled in the box before unleashing a shot from eight yards that the shot stopper was equal to. Swans Substitute Richard Langley then forced a fine save from Russell from a well struck free kick that curled over the ramshackle Wood wall, before a lapse in concentration led to the equaliser. A hopeful lob forward from just outside the area appeared to be going out of play, but a Town player hooked the ball off the by-line back into the penalty area where defender Sam Page in acres of space was able to plant his free header wide of Russell.
The addition of Graeme Montgomery came too late, his injection of quality led to late Substitute Rob Hastings heading just wide, before Charlie O’Loughlin ensured Wood held onto a meagre point with some excellent stoppage time defending.
Team: Russell, Beckles, Jones, Vilhete, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Morgan (Sub – Montgomery 83 mins.), Isaac, Norris (Sub – Hastings 90 mins.), Riza (Sub – Akurang 65 mins.), Noto.
Subs (Not used): Hutton, Close.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Norris 63. Staines Town: Page 78.
Wood Man of the Match: Greg Morgan.