Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI
Saturday 7th August 2021, 7.30pm
Meadow Park, Pre-Season Friendly
Match Preview written by Aaron Bennis (BWFC Media Assistant)

THE CONTEXT

This Friday, Wood host an Arsenal XI to complete their annual pre-season friendly with the Gunners.

The Gunners ended their Premier League 2 campaign in a comfortable 10th place.

Wood ended their season in the National Premier in a comfortable position themselves, with a 14th place finish.

2021/22 SEASON REVIEW

THE WOOD

It was another solid season for the Wood, who despite a drop off from their previous fifth-place finish were still comfortable in 14th. An inconsistent start brought just two wins from the opening ten games before a string of four victories in a row to help the Wood into a much healthier position, the run culminating in a 3-0 triumph over rivals Barnet. This was a part of an initially fine run of form that saw four defeats from the next 24. However, this soon ended with a countless amount of draws that prevented Luke Garrard’s men from challenging higher up the table, with a narrow defeat to Wrexham in mid-May mathematically ensuring play-offs couldn’t be caught. Despite their disappointing end to the league campaign, it still proved to be a memorable season, however, as it was in the FA Cup where they were really successful. Wood reached the third round for the first time in their history where they faced Championship side Millwall. A 2-0 defeat wasn’t all doom and gloom, as it proved to be nothing but an unforgettable day for everyone involved with the club.

THE GUNNERS

The Gunners’ youth team enjoyed another crucial year of development with a tenth place finish in the Premier League 2 last time out. Highlights included a 6-0 thumping of Blackburn Rovers as well as a 5-0 victory over Brighton, while they also looked initially impressive in the EFL Trophy with wins over Ipswich Town, Crawley Town as well as a penalty shootout victory over Gillingham securing a first-place finish in the group stage. Unfortunately for the Hale End, AFC Wimbledon stood in their way at the round two stage with a 3-0 victory succumbing the youngsters to their fate.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

“THE DESTROYER”
HARRY CLARKE

Originally playing as a midfielder, Harry Clarke has converted into a ball-playing defender since he arrived at Arsenal, signing from Ipswich Town in 2015.

Playing at the heart of the defence, Clarke has impressed in pre-season with his ball-playing ability, showing the urgency to direct his movement and body position to allow him to pass the ball quicker. He likes to take responsibility, showing good anticipation and defensive positioning to force his opponent away from goal while being comfortable in the air as well.

The versatile defender signed his first professional contract in August 2018 and enjoyed a loan spell last season in League Two with Oldham Town, experiencing a first taste of what regular senior football has to offer with 35 appearances in all competitions.

He is also an England under-17 international.

“THE PLAYMAKER”
JAMES OLAYINKA

James Olayinka is a dynamic and versatile midfielder who has impressed for Arsenal’s youth team.

The 20-year old signed his first professional contract in January 2019, before moving on loan to Northampton Town a year later. He played just four times as the Cobblers won promotion to League One via the play-offs with Olayinka featuring in all three games. He had also appeared on Arsenal’s bench for the first time in a Europa League tie with Standard Liege shortly before his arrival at Northampton.

Upon his return to Arsenal, he was named on the bench for the 2020 Community Shield, being an unused substitute as the Gunners defeated Liverpool 5-4 on penalties.

Soon after, he joined Southend United on a short-term loan deal, scoring both his first goal for the club and first professional goal against the Wood in an FA Cup tie. His loan would be extended until the end of the season with Olayinka playing a total of 21 times for the club.

Primarily a central midfielder, Olayinka has filled in at defensive midfield, attacking midfield, second striker, left wing, right wing, right midfield and right back while playing for Arsenal’s under-23’s as well as Southend, offering an extreme amount of versatility.

“THE FINISHER”
FOLARIN BALOGUN

Born in New York, Folarin Balogun came to England when he was just two years old where he grew up in London. He played Sunday League football was Aldersbrook as a child and was spotted by Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs offered him a trial and although they nearly signed him, local rivals Arsenal, who had also been keeping tabs on the youngster, made the move first.

The pacey forward started 19 fixtures in the under-18’s title-winning season, scoring an incredible 25 goals that included two hat-tricks and a four-goal haul, averaging a goal every 62 minutes. His form during the campaign earnt him his first professional contract in February 2019. Balogun made his first team debut in October 2020, coming on as a substitute in Europa League group stage match against Dundalk, with the Gunners running out 3-0 winners. His first senior goal came a month later, netting in another Europa League tie with Molde with Arsenal again running out 3-0 victors.

He is also an England and USA youth international, representing the England under-17’s and under-18’s either side of the United States under-18’s, as well as most recently receiving a call-up to the England under-20’s. He is also eligible for the Nigeria national team having been born to Nigerian parents.

LAST TIME WE MET

Boreham Wood 3-3 Arsenal XI
Saturday 6th July 2019
Meadow Park, Pre-Season Friendly

A six goal thriller was present at Meadow Park as Wood and Arsenal played out a 3-3 draw in this pre-season friendly.

It was a dramatic comeback for the visitors at Meadow Park as Tyrone Marsh when, poked in the rebound into an empty net from a free-kick deep into the box that Karl Hein initially denied. The home side doubled their advantage in the 15th minute when Kabongo Tshimanga played the ball into the path of Piero Mingoia, who slotted home.

With five minutes remaining of the first half Matt Smith slotted calmly past former Gunner Ryan Huddart to half the deficit. As it seemed this half was over the hosts’ two-goal advantage was restored by Adam McDonnell as Tshimanga pinched the ball and played it back to McDonell, whose shot deflected past Hein.

It was the visitors who started the second half brightly and came close to halving the deficit again as Tyreece John-Jules saw an effort cleared off the line. John-Jules’ performance was rewarded with a goal 15 minutes after the restart when he drilled a shot low past Huddart.

After Mark McGuinness was pulled down at a corner it was John-Jules who stepped up and dispatched the spot kick to complete the comeback.

HOW TO WATCH

MATCH TICKETS 

Due to the updated government guidelines, both home and away fans are now able to enter Meadow Park to watch the game live. All tickets are encouraged to be pre-purchased, any sales taken on the day are also encouraged to be via debit/credit card.

TO BUY YOUR MATCH TICKET – CLICK HERE

LIVE STREAM

We will also be streaming the game on our BWFCtv Match Pass, for both home and away fans for just £7.99 which will include a pre-match show, a digital programme and the stream of the game. All profits made from our streaming will

TO BUY YOUR MATCH PASS – CLICK HERE

LIVE UPDATES

Alternatively, you can keep up with the action via our Twitter and Instagram pages, where there will be regular updates throughout the course of the match.

Instagram: @boreham_woodfc
Twitter: @boreham_woodfc

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