Pratt Asks The Questions.
Vanarama Conference South.
Boreham Wood 1 Bath City 2,
by John Mead.
Seasoned Conference Campaigners Bath City asked questions of Wood’s fine start to the campaign. Last seasons leading goalscorer at Twerton Park, David Pratt, chose Meadow Park to awake his side from their early season slumber, recording a well deserved victory .
City arrived with just an own goal and one point from four matches to their name, whilst Wood had found the net on thirteen occasions in a run that sent them to second in the table. That counted for nothing at a quarter to five, with the visiting fans left celebrating a very solid team performance.
For Wood it was a disappointing day where the oppositions superior tactics and individual performances showed Wood yet again that the League standings count for nothing at this understated level of football.
Ian Allinson had clearly told his side to come out of the blocks flying and they duly responded. The game was played at a frenetic pace, too fast at times with the players struggling to inject any real skill into a whirlwind game of chase ball.
Ricky Shakes snatched a shot at a loose ball from just eight yards out that Jason Mellor did well to get his body behind. Wood were doing all the talking at this stage. Lee Angol threatened but sent his final ball straight to a City defender. Graeme Montgomery then set the teenage forward up with a ball between two defenders. Angol ran in from the left but shot straight at Mellor.
The City rear guard were tested by both Ben Nunn and Matthew Whichelow in quick succession, before the visitors started to pose problems for the Wood defence. Andy Watkins had the beating of Josh Hill, with James Russell forced off his line to make a save.
Frankie Artus then got beyond Greg Morgan sending a hopeful ball to the near post from the right which Pratt stole in on forcing a half clearance that Ross Stearn blasted out of the ground. His misfortune was Wood’s gain as they gave the visitors a lesson in counter attacking football. Russell threw out to Callum Reynolds whose long ball forward was perfect for the attacking defender Nunn. He played inside to Scott Thomas who tried his luck with what seemed an innocuous low shot. It somehow escaped the attentions of Mellor who was completely wrong footed as the effort ran unattended over the line at his right hand post.
Wood almost handed the visitors a reprieve six minutes later when Reynolds and Russell suffered a communication breakdown allowing Pratt a shot that luckily for Wood deflected off of Reynolds wide of the target.
Wood now found themselves in a real battle for possession with City coming right into the game. A messy aerial battle broke out, interrupted when Morgan beat his marker playing Whichelow through on goal. He was pulled back but referee Mr Pollard showed no charity, before Angol had a low shot on target saved.
The equaliser came in first half stoppage time. Sekani Simpson threw in on the right to Stearn whose sumptuous curling cross found Pratt who got in between Reynolds and Hill to plant a superb header beyond Russell.
The second half began just like the first with Wood playing at pace. Montgomery hit a speculative effort from thirty five yards out that needed a full stretch diving save from Mellor.
A looping header over the bar from Angol signalled the end of the Wood threat with City hitting the front after 53 minutes. Pratt, who led the forward line mainly alone made the Wood defence look ordinary on occasions and none more so when he got beyond Reynolds and Hill. There was a fortunate ricochet off of Hill that favoured Stearn on the right overlap who buried what was to be the winner beyond Russell.
Thereafter City got it tactically spot on and defended their lead exceptionally well. There was little in the way of retaliation from Wood and The Romans went from strength to strength, restricting Ian Allinson’s men to few chances. The one clear chance of an equaliser came in the 94th minute. Montgomery played Nunn through down the right who laid a ball inside for Lipman to run onto. He struck it clean and first time, but unfortunately the wrong side of the near post.
After the game Wood gaffer Ian Allinson commented, “ That was our worst performance so far this season. We were almost in a position to go into the break a goal ahead without playing well. We then conceded at the worst possible time. To then concede another after 53 minutes from a move that started with a throw in in their own half was extremely disappointing. To their credit Bath City did a job on us today. We never came to terms with David Pratt up front who was a real handful. After they went ahead they did not allow us any time or space on the ball. There were no holes to take advantage of and we started to go long, which is not the type of game the personnel I have can play. “
Team: Russell, Nunn, Morgan, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Shakes, Thomas (Lipman 61), Angol, Whichelow (Hope 78), Montgomery.
Subs not used; Noto, Vasey, Courtnage.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Thomas 23.
Bath City: Pratt 45+1, Stearn 53.
Wood Man Of The Match: Ben Nunn.