Clinical Wood Off To A Flyer!
The National League.
Boreham Wood 3 F C Halifax Town 1,
by John Mead.
A dominant second half performance allowed Wood to recover from the heartache of conceding a penalty in the last two seconds of first half stoppage time, relinquishing their deserved first half lead.
The quality of their goals was superb and it was the finishing that set the two teams apart. Ian Allison was forced to start without two of his starting eleven, with Charlie MacDonald and Sam Cox sidelined through injury. A last minute dip into the transfer market secured the signings of loan striker Jamie Lucas from Bristol Rovers and and midfielder Conor Clifford, signed from Southend United less then 48 hours from the start of this tie.
Both were thrown into the starting eleven and both were instrumental on an afternoon to remember for the Football Club.
That led to no less than seven players making their debut’s and they did not disappoint.
A competitive start to the game saw Wood enjoying some good possession, but they needed the reliable Scott Doe to mop up when Callum Reynolds back pass was seized upon by Sean Tuton.
Luke Howell was the first to register a shot when he advanced in space to hit a low drive that was just the wrong side of Matty Glennon’s left hand post.
An end to end game unravelled with Matty Brown for The Shaymen then Lucas for Wood both failing to apply the finishing touch to some good build up play.
Wood won the first corner of the game after 26 minutes and when Ricky Shakes saw his shot charged down, a quick counter attack. The visitors looked for an opening when Tuton played Jordan Burrow through on goal, but the Wood defence held their line superbly and the referees assistant came to the rescue.
Ironically it was The Shaymen’s best period of the game that led to the opening goal for Wood. A free kick swung into the area from the right by Kingsley James was attacked by both central defenders Hamza Bencherif and Brown. The bearded pair got in a tangle, the ball falling for Josh MacDonald whose effort was clawed off the line by James Russell.
When the custodian finally got control of the ball he cleverly lashed a low clearance up field which was perfect for Shakes. He judged the fight of the ball superbly and with the defence out of position he steered a superb lob first time over the advancing Glennon for the opener.
It was almost two when Reynolds shielded the ball into the path of Doe who forced a full stretch save from Glennon. However just two seconds from the end of stoppage time Jake Hibbs run into the Wood penalty area was halted by a clumsy challenge from Conor Clifford from behind. Burrow decisively lashed home the equaliser, which signalled the end of the first half.
It was the visitors who found the momentum after the break, with Elliot Whitehouse skipping three challenges on the edge of the area before being bought down. Hibbs struck the resultant free kick sweetly that came back into play off the base of a post, with Wood riding their luck.
Conor Clifford more than made up for his first half error with a gutsy display, bossing the middle of
the park and twice clearing to deny Whitehouse.
Wood fought hard and Graeme Montgomery tried to set up the hard working Lucas who was beaten to the ball by a defender. Lucas, who spent most of last season on loan at Weston super Mare ignited the tie with a quite superb individual goal after 61 minutes. Bencherif made a hash of his back pass and was caught out by the speed of the 19 year old who seized possession, took it onto his left foot, gliding past a challenge from Brown before steering a superb shot wide of the despairing Glennon.
From there on Wood took control of the game. Neil Aspin introduced a second striker in the shape of Andy Bishop to partner Burrow, but it was Wood with Billy Clifford and Shakes pulling all the strings with their offensive play.
Lucas was replaced by Harry Crawford with eighteen minutes remaining and he stole the show as Wood looked to play out for the three points. With the game into stoppage time he accepted a pass from Luke Howell, allowing the ball to run past him before swivelling to tuck home number three with a decisive finish that Glennon almost kept out.
In summary The Gaffer Ian Allinson declared, “ It is quite amazing to see how far we have come in the last six or seven seasons. We know we will have to work harder then the rest of the sides in this League. Each game is extremely draining and we will be managing the number of minutes our players put in. I thought we were silly to give away the penalty at such a crucial time and the first ten minutes of the second half we were slow out of the blocks. Thereafter we improved and we showed we are a hard team to beat .”
Regarding the goal scorers on the day Ian added, “ Ricky Shakes tore a cruciate ligament within forty five minutes of signing for us. Some players never recover. Today again you saw the unbelievable energy that other teams , even at this level struggle to cope with.
Jamie Lucas has had an excellent pre season scoring six goals for Bristol Rovers. He is just 19 years old and could have a fine career in front of him.
Then you have Harry Crawford. In truth I did not see enough in pre season and what we have offered him would have caused most players to walk away in search of something else. What attracted me to Harry was his attitude in training and he loves it here. He wants to pay for Boreham Wood Football Club and today he delivered.”
Team : Russell, Nunn, Woodards, Doe, Reynolds, Shakes, Howell, Montgomery, Lucas ( Crawford 72) Conor Clifford, Billy Clifford ( Whichelow 77).
Subs not used: Hill, Morias, Edwards.
Bookings: Billy Clifford, Woodards.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Shakes 38, Lucas 61, Crawford 90+1.
F C Halifax Town: Burrow 45+2 pen.
Man Of The Match: Ricky Shakes.