Vanarama Conference South.
Boreham Wood 1 Hemel Hempstead 0,
by John Mead.
Wood held their nerve in this “must win” game for both sides to go back to the top of the table with just four games to play.
The large contingent from Hemel fuelled Wood’s biggest gate of the season on an afternoon of great expectations for both teams. The visitors had enjoyed an unbeaten run in the League away from home since December 6th last year, whilst Wood were searching for their first win on home soil since Boxing Day.
There were few chances in a game that had as much of a Cup Final feel as is to be expected on April 14th when the two sides meet again to contest The Hertfordshire Senior Challenge Cup. The majority of those chances were created by Wood, who restricted the visitors to just two shots on target on the afternoon.
It was a tight affair with neither side allowing the other any time on the ball, but Wood showed their quality when in possession. The first chance fell to Lee Angol after eight minutes. Breaking from deep Daryl McMahon released Angol who allowed Ricky Shakes a run and cross from the right that Angol met to head just the wrong side of the post.
A dangerous corner from The Tudors then had James Russell scrambling at his far post, the ball swinging just wide in the strong wind.
Junior Morias then played Sam Cox through who recorded the first shot on target of the game after 26 minutes. The breakthrough came out of a piece of quick thinking from McMahon whose throw in allowed Morias to spin off the shoulder of Jorell Johnson before coolly placing a low drive wide of the reach of Laurie Walker.
Cox again found the target after Ben Nunn’s through ball, with Walker equal to the effort. The visitors lack of penetration caused Dean Brennan to abandon his formation, going to a 3-5-2, which the Wood bench was quick to pick up on and the necessary adjustments were meted out.
Hemel enjoyed their best spell after the interval, but it served only to bring out the best of a quite superb Wood defence on the day. Josh Hill, who has kept Ben Martin out of the starting line up, played his eighth consecutive League match and turned in his best display yet. With the ever reliable Callum Reynolds alongside, the two centre backs turned the Wood penalty area into a no go zone.
Hemel went close to an equaliser after 50 minutes from a corner on the right. Arthur Lee’s glanced effort at the far post needed a full stretch save from Russell.
Luke Allen was then allowed to travel the length of the field before seeing his cross narrowly missed by both Zane Barton and Oliver Hawkins.
Walker then needed to make an important intervention to prevent Shakes latching onto a cross from Angol as the Wood forwards were guilty of failing to convert some decisive balls into danger.
With time running down and The Tudors changing their shape again, substitute Nicke Kabamba flashed a shot across goal that was close to the target.
Two substitutes combined when Graeme Montgomery provided a fine cross for Charlie Walker at the far post, but he failed to hit the target. The pair were then joined by Matty Whichelow for the last five minutes and Walker sent Whichelow through on goal with a superb ball from the halfway line. The Tudors defence was well and truly breached on this occasion, yet Walker positioned himself well to pull off a fine save.
Wood finished the stronger with Walker’s effort into the side netting failing to affect the final scoreline which was a little more comfortable than it suggested for Ian Allinson’s men.
With other results going Wood’s way, the title is now becoming more than just a dream with four matches remaining of a most excellent campaign.
Speaking after the game Allinson admitted, “ It was tough today. I thought they defended well and look like a side who could well go on and win all their last five matches. I could not have asked for anymore than being in our current position at the start of the season. We finished off the game well today and stuck to our plans. We can only take each game as it comes and see where we earn the right to be at the end of the season.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Herd, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Thomas, Shakes, Angol ( Whichelow 89), Morias ( Walker 79), McMahon ( Montgomery 65).
Subs not used: Martin, Garrard.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Morias 29.
Wood Fans Man Of the Match: Josh Hill.