Many Happy Returns!.
Vanarama Conference South.
Boreham Wood 2 St Albans City 1,
by John Mead.
There were many happy returns to celebrate with this hard fought dramatic evening of football at Meadow Park. The occasion itself was a welcome return to the enigma that is “The Local Derby”.
Wood have waited three years to stage such a game and like buses three have come along at once with the newly promoted teams all within a trip on public transport away. Ian Allinson himself admitted, “ You don’t get much football played in derby games.”
What you do get however is a blood and thunder tie in front of a larger than average audience and this occasion lived up to its billing.
Another welcome return was the three points that shot Wood back up to the top of the table, a position that may be brief but is certainly one to saviour.
The final welcome return in no understated terms was the news that Junior Morias, the fans favourite at the business end of last season has now signed for the club. No occasion is too big for this talented strikers appetite and he duly feasted at the table of glory firing the winning goal in spectacular fashion after coming on as a substitute to send the home fans into ecstasy on a evening where fingernails were very much on the menu!
The Saints enjoyed the opening stages scarcely allowing Wood to settle. A hesitant clearance by Josh Hill set up Sean Shields for a vicious thirty yard drive that whipped up off the surface, needing all of James Russell’s attention to keep it out of the net. James Kaloczi then headed at Russell from a corner.
Wood’s first effort came when Ricky Shakes played a central ball for Lee Angol who kept his feet inside the area to tee up Austin Lipman. His superbly executed shot on the turn drew a fine save out of Joe Welch. Wood began to find momentum with efforts from Graeme Montgomery and Angol blocked before a Lipman cross resulted in a scrambled clearance and a head injury to Ben Martin,
The lengthy delay was well worth the wait as the bandaged Martin went on to epitomise the fight in the visitors with a heroic defensive display that served to frustrate Woods attack all evening.
Welch then produced the save of the game after 29 minutes. A Montgomery corner was headed back into danger by Scott Thomas finding Lipman whose explosive shot looked to be goal bound until Welch dived to save superbly.
Wood were under pressure form the long throws of Lee Chappell and needed to be at their defensive best, as was James Comley whose blocking tackle to deny Shakes spurred on the visitors.
Comley then saw his deflected shot saved by Russell at the other end before the breakthrough came in exotic fashion in first half stoppage time. A period of pressure from Wood led to a cross from the right which was met by Angol who sent his cushioned header beyond Welch, only for defender Darren Locke to rise salmon like to tip the effort over the bar with a save that Gordon Banks would have applauded!
Angol coolly dispatched the resultant penalty leaving the visitors a goal down and a man light for the second half, another commendable “return” for the young striker who has now contributed eleven goals in thirteen starts.
However The Saints rose to the occasion equalising in devastating counter attacking fashion. A three pass move from the back, involving a slide rule pass from Comley allowed Shields to take one touch round the committed Russell before finding his angle to send the visiting supporters wild.
Both sides had a real go at each other thereafter, with Wood finding a new lease of life through the introduction of Morias. His first attempt at goal was blocked by the peerless Martin, before Angol teed up his old Wycombe Wanderers colleague for a power drive that was just held by Welch.
Wood enjoyed a purple period with Morias a real threat in what was a frenetic clash between the neighbours. With 78 minutes played Jordan Brown played a ball for Montgomery who found Morias thirty yards from goal on the left. There looked to be little on but the diminutive striker unleashed a shot that Welch had no answer to and it was the turn of the home fans to celebrate.
Back came the ten men who threatened to equalise with veteran substitute Lee Clarke heading just wide as the visitors forced the game. Dave Keenleyside almost caught out Russell when his floated cross went dangerously close.
Angol could have added a late third goal. He looked set to bury Montgomery’s cross late on, but Morias was hungry for more and intercepted to blast out of the ground. It mattered not as the final whistle sounded which led Ian Allinson to summarise, “ Credit to St Albans, they had a real go at us. We were not as slick as we have been, but that was down to the occasion. It was a great derby that was played by both sides in the correct manner. The work rate from the players was magnificent after such a hard battle at Havant two days earlier. You can measure that effort by Ricky Shakes who succumbed to cramp, a player that just keeps going and going.”
Team: Russell, Morgan, Brown, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Thomas, Shakes ( Noto 88), Angol, Lipman (Morias 61), Montgomery.
Subs not used: Moli, Garrard, Courtnage.
Goals: Boreham Wood: Angol 45 +2, Morias 78.
St Albans City: Shields 51.
Man Of The Match: Scott Thomas.