Wood Into Play Off Final!
Vanarama Conference South Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg.
Boreham Wood 2 Havant and Waterlooville 2,
by John Mead.
Wood are just one game away from Conference National Football after overcoming The Hawks over two legs. This was the biggest day in the history of the club and that will be usurped again in seven days time when Whitehawk visit Meadow Park to contest the final promotion place.
The game bore no resemblance to the convincing 0-2 win in Hampshire just three days earlier. Lee Bradbury could call upon his two key defenders Ed Harris and Brian Stock, both returning from suspension. He also dropped his front two Bradley Bubb and JJ Hooper giving Ben Wright the chance to lead the line.
Wood started brightly with Junior Morias firing just wide, before the pace of Harry Connick began to trouble the Wood defence. Havant, unlike in midweek began to enjoy the lions share of possession, which needed a gritty, backs to the wall effort from Sam Cox, Ricky Shakes and Scott Thomas in the centre of the park, which served to abate the flow of the game, with the bolstered Hawks defence in superb form.
Connick looked to run through again and it needed a team effort from Ben Nunn and Shakes to clear the danger. It was Connick who forced the first corner of the game after 16 minutes and it led to the opening goal. A training ground manoeuvre with the ball played short for Stock whose curling cross picked out the ghosting run of Brian Dutton who stooped to head home at the far post.
Suddenly the two goal lead was halved early on in the game, giving the afternoon a whole different complexion. Dutton almost repeated his feat a minute later , this time failing to hit the target.
Wood were visibly rattled by the goal and did their best to limit the visitors, yet with so much at stake it was a nervy Wood who looked intent just to clear their lines. Sam Cox won a corner when his low shot towards goal took a slight deflection, before Morias fired home from an offside position.
Dutton, who put in a superb performance at the back for the Hawks again went close with his head from a Ben Swallow free kick. He was making his presence felt at both ends of the ground and was in fact the main goal scoring threat for the visitors with another effort from a Ben Strugnell free kick going just wide before the interval.
The second half began much like the first ended until Wood finally began to settle through some superb grafting from Cox who stole in to recover possession, sowing the seeds of recovery.
The equaliser came when Shakes had presence of mind to chase down a defensive pass towards Warren Cummings. He spotted keeper Ryan Young coming to gather and stole in on Cummings’ blind side to intercept the ball, knocking it past the now stranded keeper before walking it into an empty net.
This left the visitors needing to score twice to force the game into extra time. Bradbury made the decision to throw on three attacking players for the last twenty five minutes. However as they prepared themselves Wood struck again. It was that man Cox again wrestling possession in midfield before supplying Morias. The superb understanding between Morias and Angol, which has been a main stay of Wood’s unprecedented success this campaign again came to the fore. Angol was played through and showed tremendous composure to find the gap between keeper and post.
Cue wild celebrations and a less tense last twenty two minutes for the home fans in the seasons best crowd of 906.
There was still work to do and when JJ Hooper was played through on goal it looked easier to score, the substitute shooting over with a Wood player getting a slight deflection en route. Another substitute Shane Mullings then played Hooper through whose shot was too good for James Russell in the Wood goal, but not enough to prevent the talismanic Shakes clearing off the line.
Hooper did reduce the deficit when Nunn could not prevent him scoring at the near post, but with just seven minutes of normal time remaining, the task of chasing down another two goals without leaving themselves open to a counter attack was a bridge too far for the plucky visitors.
In fact it was Wood who finished the stronger with Young saving from Angol after good work from Morias. Back came The Hawks when Hooper forced a save from Russell.
Graeme Montgomery then beat three defenders before shooting just wide, before the final whistle signalled a piece of history being created, mass celebrations and the presentation of Runners Up medals to the victorious Wood side.
Team: Russell, Nunn, Herd, Cox, Hill ( Martin 85), Reynolds, Thomas, Shakes, Angol, Morias ( Whichelow 90), Montgomery.
Subs not used: Garrard, Walker, Courtnage.
Bookings: Hill, Shakes, Angol, Reynolds, Morias.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Shakes 63, Angol 67.
Havant and Waterlooville: Dutton 16, Hooper 83.
Wood Man Of The Match: Sam Cox.