Vanarama Conference South.
Boreham Wood 1 Havant and Waterlooville 2,
by John Mead.
A last minute goal proved to be the sucker punch that saw Wood lose top spot in the table on an afternoon of twists and turns.
The game could not have started better for Ian Allinson’s side. In their first attack Junior Morias found his old Wycombe Wanderers team mate Lee Angol with a fine ball. Angol’s shot spiralled up in the air off of keeper Ryan Young before finding the back of the net, with Morias on hand at the right hand post just in case.
The game was just 48 seconds old, and in the third minute the pair combined again with Young just managing to keep Angol’s effort out of the net.
Wood looked comfortable in possession and defended as a unit with James Russell a spectator for most of the half. Wood came close to a second after 25 minutes . Matty Whichelow drifted in from the right playing a pass into the feet of Morias who immediately sent Angol through again. He turned superbly inside the area shooting just the wrong side of the post.
The first threat from the visitors came from a set play, when Scott Donnelly’s free kick found the head of Ed Harris who forced Russell into a finger tip save at his right hand post.
Wood continued to dominate thereafter with Angol blasting over before Ben Swallow won a soft penalty for his side. His superb run down the right took him beyond Luke Garrard, forcing Callum Reynolds to come across and make a challenge that resulted in The Hawks winger going to ground after minimal contact.
Donnelly made no mistake giving his side a lift going into the second half, which was three minutes old when Allinson decided it was time for the long awaited return of World traveller Ben Nunn, making his first appearance since September.
Early signs were superb, a brilliantly timed challenge on Josh Huggins reminding Wood fans what they had been missing. However when Ben Herd delivered a floating free kick into danger for Wood, they found themselves exposed to the quick counter attack. A clearance upfield was inch perfect for the run of JJ Hooper who took the ball in his stride before bearing down on goal. Nunn’s desperate attempt to challenge for a ball he was never going to win ended his comeback after just six minutes.
Donnelly sent Russell completely the wrong way but the post came to Wood’s rescue and it left Wood thirty six minutes to chase victory with ten men.
Allinson shuffled the pack, introducing Scott Thomas for Morias, with Sam Cox moving to right back. Lee Bradbury in the opposite dugout then played his hand, moving Swallow across to do battle with Cox.
Ricky Shakes made up the numbers playing with a lions heart and the energy of two men for Allinson. His central run set up Whichelow for a cross that ran dangerously across goal.
The Hawks defence were made to work, blocking an effort from Grame Montgomery before Angol drifted past three challenges before shooting wide.
The influential Swallow then forced Russell into an acrobatic flying stop with both sides homing in on a decisive conclusion, with so much at stake.
The honours went to The Hawks just thirty seconds before the end of normal time. Montgomery gave away possession cheaply and Wood were made to pay. Donnelly accepted his gift, sending the misguided pass through to Bradley Bubb who picked out the run of Hooper in behind the defence to smash home the goal that put his side back into the top five at the expense of Basingstoke Town.
Wood are now second with Bromley now in pole position with three games in hand, a situation which does not phase Ian Allinson in the slightest. “ Obviously I am hugely disappointed to lose, but the character of the side is unquestionable. I felt we were comfortable before the sending off and created the better chances after it as well. The penalty changed the game and it was harsh on us. Obviously going down to ten men gave Havant the advantage in terms of the counter attack and we were beaten by one piece of naivety when we failed to defend correctly in a dangerous area of the field right at the end of the game Overall our performance against one of the top sides in the Division shows that we are where we are on merit alone.”
Team: Russell, Herd, Garrard (Nunn 48), Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Whichelow, Shakes, Angol (Walker 80), Morias (Thomas 59), Montgomery.
Subs not used: McMahon, Martin.
Bookings: Nunn (sent off 54).
Goals: Boreham Wood: Angol 1.
Havant and Waterlooville: Donnelly 40 pen, Hooper 90.
Wood Fans Man Of The Match: Ricky Shakes.