Hertfordshire Senior Cup Final.
Bishops Stotford 1(1) Boreham Wood 1(1) aet.
Wood Win 3-1 on Penalties
James Russell won the Cup for his side with three remarkable saves during a penalty shoot out. His outfield team mates had enough chances to win the game in both normal and injury time, but the tie went right to the wire in dramatic fashion.
It was a dream start by Wood with Lee Angol netting the opener in some style after just 103 seconds. Graeme Montgomery lost possession down the right, with the ball cleared upfield as far as Luke Garrard. His visionary ball back into danger was perfect for Angol who unleashed a superb dipping drive from twenty yards out over Joe Wright. It was a superb strike from the talented young prospect.
Cliff Akurang in The Blues first attack was stopped by a fine challenge by Callum Reynolds, allowing Garrard to set up another counter attack. His upfield ball caused Wright to come rushing out of his box, losing out to Angol who got the first touch, only to wait an age for the ball to roll just wide of the unguarded net.
An Ashley Miller shot was cut out for Stortford’s first corner of the game and against the run of play they drew level after 17 minutes. Reece Prestedge delivered from the right and Montgomery failed to track the movement of Michael Richens who rose to bury an unstoppable header beyond Russell.
Wood continued to attack, with Garrard releasing Ricky Shakes who beat the offside trap forcing a fine save from Wright. Minutes later the Stortford defence were carved open again by a rampant Wood. Matty Whichelow and Ben Nunn combined down the right with Nunn’s telling ball across the face of goal getting the merest of touches from a Blues defender which was just enough to put off Angol who was waiting at the far post to finish the move.
Montgomery shot just wide before a break in play after Shakes and Callum McNaughton suffered a clash of heads.
It was Garrard again who split the defence forcing Wright well out of his area after 37 minutes, this time he won the challenge with Shakes, heading clear. Montgomery then chipped a lovely effort just wide before Richens earned a yellow card for dissent.
Wood continued to dominate after the interval, Garrard released Shakes who provided for Whichelow in acres of space with just Wright to beat. Again the Blues shotstopper was the hero pulling off an excellent save to deny Wood further.
Stortford were deduced to ten after 63 minutes when referee Mr Waters decided that Richens’ jump in front of Russell as he threw the ball out was foul play. It seemed a tough decision, but Stortford used it to their favour, changing their game plan and taking the game to Wood with good effect.
Akurang broke free on goal and was tripped by Mark Jones who received just a yellow card thanks to a second Wood defender in attendance. The Stortford faithful were incensed after the sending off, but Mr Waters got it right on this occasion.
McNaughton, resplendent in head bandage and with his knee strapped then headed just wide from a Matt Johnson free kick, the ten men very much still in the tie.
Wood were keen to finish the game inside ninety minutes and Reynolds saw his header from a corner cleared off the line by Miller, before a superb tackle from Jordan Brown denied Shakes, extending the tie by thirty minutes.
What followed was pure edge of the seat stuff. Nunn and Shakes combined setting up Garrard for a fine drive that was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Wright. The corner that followed found Wright again in brilliant form. He clawed Nunn’s header off the line, before Sam Cox’s follow up shot was deflected over the bar by a defender.
Angol then had a shot hacked clear by George Allen which led to another Wood corner. Unbelievably Stortford survived clearing twice off the line, before Allen headed an attempted clearance onto a post.
Before the end of the first period of extra time Cox charged down a ball which ran kindly for Shakes who looked like breaking the deadlock only for Wright to pull of yet another unbelievable save.
As the game entered the final phase the action continued with Greg Morgan on for the last fifteen minutes racing free from inside his own half. He provided a fine ball for Cox whose shot beat Wright but hit the left hand post before coming back into play. A minute later and the woodwork saved Stortford for a third and final time, with Angol and Montgomery providing for Shakes as the action continued unabated.
Montgomery found himself free with just Wright to beat and his excellent effort was destined for the net until Wright, simply playing out of his skin got down to repel. Aside from Wright, McNaughton was a real hero for manager Rod Stringer. He defended headers from both Morgan and Angol, after his head injury and several knocks to his legs.
Glancing out at the field with minutes to go, his head bandage loose and rising up, it looked like he may have swapped his swaddling for a party hat, which given that he had the last chance of the game to score heading just wide, may well have been appropriate!
The shoot out belonged to Russell. He saved the first from Prestedge with his body which was struck down the middle before Reynolds put Wood a goal up. Johnson got his side off the mark, before Nunn stepped up to blast home high into the top right hand corner.
Next up was Akurang and the emphasis was guessing right against such an established striker. Russell did just that with a superb save to his left, allowing Angol to put Wood three one up with a confident side footed effort.
The game was won when Luke Milbourne struck a good effort destined for just inside the right hand post. Russell flew through the air producing a finger tip save around the post, before disappearing underneath a dozen jubilant Wood players.
The Herts Senior Cup returns to Meadow Park after six years and a lot of effort on the night. Speaking after the game Wood Boss Ian Allinson confirmed, “ We did enough to win it inside the ninety minutes but again if you do not put your chances away, you can get punished. We were poor from their corner and that is something that has been creeping into our game. With games coming thick and fast we have had little chance to address that in training. We needed this after two abject performances. The players were obviously not tired and managed to raise their game for the big occasion. There were some great individual performances tonight, with Luke Garrard coming in for the big occasion and I thought Ricky Shakes did superbly playing up top. We lost our composure after the sending off and started lumping it, but I am delighted for the club and the players to bring the Cup home.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Shakes ( Oyenuga 111), Whichelow (Morgan 105), Angol, Garrard, Montgomery ( Noto 113).
Subs not used: Pires, Courtnage.
Goals: Bishops Stortford: Richens 17.
Boreham Wood: Angol 2.
Men of the Match: Luke Garrard and James Russell.