Pre Season Friendly.
Boreham Wood 2 Arsenal XI 2,
by John Mead.
Wood signed off their gruelling pre season with a commendable 2-2 draw against a highly talented bunch of young Internationals. Last season Wood ran out 3-0 winners in the tie, yet this time they faced a more experienced set of players whose build up play was at times mesmerising.
Jon Toral and Kris Olssen were included after featuring in the First Teams Trans Atlantic fixture against the New York Bulls, with the latter in particular looking like he has a huge career in front of him. Add to the mix two sixteen year old’s who more than earned their right to play in this Under 21 side. Chris Willock who featured for the First Team here at Meadow Park two weeks earlier, along with Dan Crowley could very well be household names in the near future.
Graeme Montgomery had the first chance to break the deadlock as early as the 3rd minute, his low effort from inside the penalty area running just wide of Josh Vickers’ left hand post.
When Charlie Walker was held back by Olssen three minutes later Wood seized the momentum. Lee Angol hit a fine free kick wide of Vickers to give Wood the lead.
Arsenal capitalised when Luke Garrard was caught out by Olssen six minutes later inside his own half. Olssen powered forward laying a ball into the path of Crowley on the left, who expertly squeezed his shot home at the near post beyond a full stretch James Russell.
Crowley looked for a quick second, but Russell was equal to his effort, as Arsenal, buoyed by the brilliant distribution of Olssen gave the Wood defence an all too familiar pre season work out!
Wood then showed the visitors they posed a threat on the counter attack when Montgomery picked out Walker who showed great skill in drifting across the face of the area before testing Vickers with a well struck effort.
With the visitors controlling possession for long periods Toral hit a superb shot that Russell repelled with his chest.
Whilst Crowley and Olssen continued to threaten the Wood defence, Angol reciprocated at the other end of the park, giving both Semi Ajayi and Stefan O’Connor a full examination.
Wood gained the advantage just before half time. A fine in swinging cross from Greg Morgan on the left found Garrard who saw his header cleared off the line by the hand of Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill. The Wood Assistant Manager struck a perfect penalty to give his side the advantage.
A sublime interchange of passes between the superb Crowley and Willock ended with the latter curling an effort just over the bar for the visitors. Arsenal continued to dominate possession and introduced Alex Iwobi after 55 minutes. He benefitted from Crowley’s teasing run hitting the crossbar with a fine effort, their best chance since opening their account.
Ricky Shakes worked tirelessly on the edge of his own area in protecting the lead, with Josh Hill and Callum Reynolds as efficient and focused as ever in the heart of defence.
Hill’s one mistake allowed Willock and Crowley to combine again but this time Crowley failed to hit the target.
Arsenal fully deserved their equaliser, which came courtesy of a move down the left again involving Willock. He set up Ormonde-Ottewill whose shot was blocked only as far as Toral who made no mistake.
Wood hung on for the draw, with the lively Iwobi’s effort into the side netting as close as they came to a winner on the night.
In summary Wood Boss Ian Allinson commented, “ Arsenal’s ball retention was fabulous! We set our stall out yet looked tired towards the end of the game. It was extremely hard to get the ball, then easy to give it away again against such talented young opposition. From a match fitness perspective it was excellent. We looked strong in defence and in the middle of the park and need to finalise the attack before next Saturday.”
Looking forward the the start of the season Allinson added, “ I have watched Farnborough and was impressed with what I saw. They will be tough opposition no question and we need to be focused. Then we travel to Hemel Hempstead whose home record last season was second to none. It is good that the players have four days off now, coming back in for two training sessions before we go again in the League.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Morgan, Garrard, Hill ( Beattie 89), Reynolds, Walker ( Whichelow 66), Thomas ( Hope 66), Angol ( Vasey 89), Shakes, Montgomery ( Noto 78).
Goals: Boreham Wood: Angol 6, Garrard 45 pen.
Arsenal : Crowley 12, Toral 74.