Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI
Friday 29th July 2022, 7.00pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Pre-Season Friendly

THE CONTEXT

The Wood round off their pre-season campaign with the annual visit of Arsenal, who will once again put out an XI against the National League side.

Hale End enjoyed another successful year of development after the Under-23’s finished third in the Premier League 2, and will be keen to improve on that league finish in the upcoming season.

Wood’s draw at Potters Bar Town signals the need for improvement ahead of their National League campaign, but it was another crucial 90 minutes that saw them stretch their unbeaten run in pre-season to three games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

“THE DESTROYER”
ZACH AWE

Born halfway through Arsenal’s invincible season of 2003/04, Zach Awe joined the Gunners at a young age and has risen through the ranks where he has featured for both the Under-18’s and Under-23’s, before signing his first professional contract in February 2021. The 18-year old has shown versatility and is comfortable with bringing the ball out the back, proving himself to be impressive technically as well as tactically aware, which saw him receive a call-up to the first team in a competitive fixture a year later when he featured on the bench in a Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“THE PLAYMAKER”
MATTHEW SMITH

Having joined Arsenal at the age of seven, Matthew Smith progressed through the age groups and helped the academy reach the 2017/18 FA Youth Cup Final, before earning his first professional contract after impressing for the Under-23’s. The deep-lying playmaker likes to control the tempo and has a good eye for a pass along with a strong leadership ability, and was named on the bench for a Premier League match against Southampton as well as in the 2020 FA Cup Final. He has gained experience out on loan with Swindon Town, Charlton Athletic and Doncaster Rovers, accumulating 84 senior appearances.

“THE FINISHER”
JOEL IDEHO

After beginning his career in his native Holland with the youth teams of SC ‘t Zand, Willem II and Ajax, Joel Ideho made the move to England in 2020 when he joined Arsenal to enhance his development. The 19-year old has established himself as a flair player who can operate on either flank, offering trickery and pace along with good vision, off-the-ball movement, accuracy and work rate, and impressed in the Papa John’s Trophy against Swindon Town where he found the net with a composed finish as well as featuring for the first team in a friendly against Brentford B.

LAST TIME WE MET

Boreham Wood 4-0 Arsenal XI
Friday 6th August 2021
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Pre-Season Friendly

The Wood struck four past Arsenal in their penultimate pre-season friendly ahead of the 2021/22 National League campaign, thanks to goals from Tyrone Marsh, Gus Mafuta and a double from Kabongo Tshimanga.

The visitors came out the blocks quickly with two chances during the early stages for Omari Hutchinson and Kido Taylor-Hart, but the Wood grew into the game as Mark Ricketts applied pressure from a free kick that required Ovie Ejeheri to keep the danger at bay. An onslaught of chances for the hosts saw Marsh go close after 15 minutes, prior to Ejeheri once again being called into action to tip over Connor Smith’s cross before fumbling a catch that presented Tshimanga with the opportunity to fire home, with Alex Kirk clearing his effort off the line. They would soon have the lead though through Marsh, who met a corner with an excellent header beyond Ejeheri.

They continued their impressive display into the second half with two further openings for Marsh in quick succession, but eventually managed to double their advantage when Mafuta struck a tremendous effort into the top corner. Chances were at a premium for the Gunners with Nathan Ashmore able to deny Brooke Norton-Cuffy, before it got even better for the hosts after Tshimanga’s darting run into the box which saw the defender get in the way, with the striker firing home the subsequent spot-kick. He would notch a second of the evening and a fourth overall shortly after to make Miguel Azeez rue an earlier miss from a free kick, receiving the ball just outside the six yard box and turning brilliantly before taking the ball under control and firing past substitute keeper Hubert Graczyk to put the game beyond doubt.

HOW TO WATCH

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