This Wednesday Wood travel to Havant and Waterlooville in the first tie of a two legged semi final for the right to play in the Conference Premier. The thought of our small club taking part in the countries fifth highest League is staggering to say the least, but for the people of Boreham Wood this is an opportunity that is surely too great to ignore.
To put this into perspective, a place in the “ National League” as it is to be called from next season will give the town and the club massive media coverage, including live match updates on Radio Five Live, Talk Sport and on the BBC Football website, bringing the football club into the lives of every single football fan in the entire country!
Another mind boggling fact is that if we succeed in our quest we will be playing Tranmere Rovers next season!
We are of course not alone in out dream and our opponents in the Semi Final share our desire to do battle in the National League for the first time in their history too!
This coming week is a journey not be be missed by Wood Fans who have slowly been growing in numbers throughout our most successful season to date. The camaraderie amongst our self proclaimed “ Wood Army” grows in stature week in week out as more local folk come to enjoy the high standard of football played by our side, feeding off the emotion of victory and defeat whilst enjoying the friendship and hospitality amongst each other and with the rival fans alike.
Our most successful season ever culminating in a second placed finish was realised this weekend with victory at Chelmsford City by the odd goal in seven. A glance at the final table shows that we missed out on the Title by just two points and accrued the best goal difference in the League over forty games.
I caught up with Ian Allinson after the clubs end of season Gala Dinner to discuss the final days action and to look forward to the biggest week in the clubs 67 year history. “ I wanted us to be positive in our performance against Chelmsford City and to take that on into the two games against Havant and Waterlooville. We made some errors defensively but hopefully have got that out of our systems now in readiness for our trip to Havant on Wednesday night. Four of my players have tasted the feeling of scoring a goal in a superb game in which both sides showed immense character to come back into the game at different stages.”
Moving onto the task ahead I asked Ian if he was pleased with the final outcome of the draw. “ Obviously we were happy to avoid Whitehawk at this stage who are without a doubt the current in form side that are in the play offs. That said it is a tremendous challenge for all the sides left in the competition and we need to be still in this on Saturday when Havant come to Meadow Park to stand a chance of progressing to the final.”
It is second versus fifth with Wood having home advantage in the second leg. Havant finished the season on 70 points, five below ourselves. We surrendered all six points to our rivals in the League this campaign in two incident packed matches, losing both by two goals to one.
Our trip to Havant in October featured Wood forcing Havant to concede their first goal since August after only six minutes, when Lee Angol converted from the spot. A superb game described as “ One that would grace the Division above” ensued with both sides contributing to the cause. Havant went in to the interval 2-1 ahead, before Angol was harshly sent off for a second yellow card for diving that was later conclusively proved incorrect and it left Wood with a mountain to climb.
In February Havant were again stung by a quick Wood goal, this time it took Angol just 48 seconds to break the deadlock, only for Havant to equalise from the spot before half time. Ben Nunn made a swift return and exit from his world travels being red carded just six minutes after coming off the bench, which led to heartbreak as JJ Hooper grabbed the winner for The Hawks in the last minute of the game.
Ed Harris who was influential in that first game in scoring the winner and bossing the defence will be missing for the first leg due to suspension. Wood will need to be aware of the penetrative Ben Swallow who was the real danger man in the home tie.
The leading goalscorers are Callum Donnelly who netted the penalty at Meadow Park and JJ Hooper who provided the last minute winner, who both have 16 goals in all competitions.
Vanarama Conference South Play Off Semi Final: Boreham Wood v Havant and Waterlooville.
Ist Leg: Wednesday 29th April kick off 7.45pm
Westleigh Park, Martin Road, Havant. PO9 5TH.
2nd leg: Saturday May 2nd . Kick off TBC.
Meadow Park, Broughinge Road, Boreham Wood. WD6 5AL.
COME ON YOU WOOD!