League Leaders Cheltenham Town are descending on Meadow Park this coming Saturday for the first time in eighteen years. Our brief encounter back in the 1997-98 season was in the F A Cup 2nd Round. That game finished in a 2-0 win for the visitors, after Wood had held them to a 1-1 draw at Whaddon Road ten days earlier.
At the time Cheltenham Town were a side on the up. Having just secured promotion from the Southern League, they were to finish runners up in the Vauxhall Conference that season, win the F A Trophy for the one and only time in their history to date, before gaining promotion to the League the following season. Wood were also enjoying success at the time, posting their highest ever finish in their history at the end of that season, 2nd in the Ryman Premier League.
The Robins established themselves in the 4th tier of English football, even gaining promotion for one season to Division Two ( now known as Division One) in 2001 and went on to gain another promotion to the First Division in the 2006-07 season. A year later they famously did the double over Leeds United, but were relegated back to Division Two in 2008-09. They soon regrouped however and were losing finalists in the Play Offs in both 2011-12 and 2012-13. Their cause was helped when in January 2013 they signed Byron Harrison, who had played for Wood back in the 2006-07 season scoring thirteen goals in twenty nine appearances. Harrison went on to net eighteen times for the Robins over two seasons.
However last season spelled the end of Town’s sixteen years in League football, spending four of those in Division One. It also heralded the arrival of Gary Johnson as Manager. He is undoubtably one of the most successful Managers in the country in the lower Leagues. After a spell as the National Coach of Latvia he descended upon Yeovil Town in 2001, where he won the F A Trophy in his first season, the Conference League the next season , then two years later got the Glovers into League One, a remarkable feat for a side that were old sparring partners of Wood in the Ryman Premier League four years before the arrival of Johnson.
Johnson then left the Glovers for Bristol City, Peterborough and Northampton Town before returning in January 2012 to steer them into the Championship. It is no small wonder he is known as “ Sir Gary” down in Somerset!
At Cheltenham Town this season Johnson has again forged a side that are knocking on the door of League football again. It will take something special from Wood to end their current fourteen game unbeaten run. Their away form is as formidable as their home form, winning 8 times and losing just once in thirteen outings. The Robins are currently chirping from the top of the tree, four points clear of Forest Green Rovers, often cited as; “ The best team we have faced this season” by various clubs we have faced to date. They have lost just twice in twenty seven games.
Goals have been coming from a number of sources. 21 year old Billy Waters, signed at the start of the season from Crewe Alexandra has eleven to his name. Seasoned striker Danny Wright has netted on ten occasions and is now serving his 5th Conference National League side, after signing from Kidderminster Harriers, whilst 8 goal Jack Munns is a 22 year old who started his career in the Totenham Hotspur Academy.
Wood have boosted their attack with the signing of Jordan Chiedozie from Cambridge United in the January transfer window. Loan spells at Dartford and Braintree Town this season saw him net 4 times in 8 appearances. He is the son of former Nigerian International John, who had an illustrious career in English football at Leyton Orient, Notts County and latterly Tottenham Hotspur.
Boreham Wood v Cheltenham Town.
Saturday January 9th, kick off 3pm.