Boreham Wood 0 West Ham United 3
by John Mead
In terms of opposition this was possibly the toughest game Wood have ever played in their entire sixty-five year history, given that Sam Allardyce used all of his available Squad members, fielding two different elevens for each half. The term “star studded” probably does not even do the visitors justice, with the majority of the 1,323 crowd well entertained by their Premiership heroes.
The whole context of the evening was put into perspective with the recent passing of Ryan Moran whose illustrious Non League football Career was met with a minute’s applause before Kick Off. His legacy was explained by Derek Bumby, the Wood announcer, who was fighting back the tears in an emotional broadcast that was well received by the good natured crowd.
If this is to be Wood’s Season then the consistency so revered by the great Alex Ferguson could well be the keystone with forward Donovan Simmonds and midfielder Mark Bentley the only two new names in the starting eleven.
Understandably James Russell, in the Wood goal, was the busiest of the Squad on the night, turning in an excellent performance. One of his saves was even applauded by his opposite number Adrian in the Hammers goal. It was another gruelling night for the Wood defence who were held together by another superb performance from Luke Garrard, who was outstanding against the likes of Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison, Joe Cole and Matt Jarvis.
Early action centred around the Wood goal mouth, a trend that was to continue throughout the game. Blocks from Charlie O’Loughlin, Garrard and Greg Morgan denied The Hammers an early goal, before Graeme Montgomery’s deft flick put him beyond Winston Reid running through down the left channel. His end product flew just wide of Adrian’s left hand post.
Welsh International, Collison, pulled all the strings up front for the visitors and drew a fine save from Russell, before the hosts took the lead after twenty minutes. Former Shaktar Dhonetsk player Razvan Rat hit an innocuous cross from the left which led to a miss hit clearance from O’Loughlin, forcing Russell into an acrobatic save. The loose ball was guided home by Ravel Morrison.
From the restart Collison had his shot cleared behind by Callum Reynolds for a corner on the left. The ball was played short to Mark Noble whose cross was met perfectly by Vaz Te who looped an unstoppable header beyond Russell making it two goals in as many minutes for the Claret clad visitors.
Simmonds showed the sparks of a dangerous forward on his Wood debut, but up against such competent opposition real chances were at an absolute premium for Ian Allinson’s men. Ben Nunn allowed Rat a cheap sight of the target, yet again Russell rescued Wood with a fine stop. Russell then denied Paul McCallum saving his header, before Vaz Te ended the first half curling a free kick over the crossbar.
Fresh personnel flooded the field of play for The Hammers with Liam Enver-Marum replacing Simmonds up front for Wood.
The half was less frenetic from a Wood perspective as they defended well. Jarvis hit an effort across goal that was just wide of the top right hand corner of the net, before hitting the crossbar allowing Cole a shot that was blocked by O’Loughlin.
Substitute Charlie Moone did well to get his cross over from the left but Jussi Jaaskelainen was equal to it.
Calum Willock was introduced by Allinson and did well along with Corey Whitely. The former is revered for his days at Ebbsfleet United, having spent last Season with Dover Athletic, whilst the latter is a Wood PASE product who scored twenty-one goals for Cheshunt last Season.
The introduction of Raheem Sterling – Parker and Karl Brown, both Wood Elite players, with nine minutes remaining sparked the half back into action from a Wood perspective, with both players seizing the opportunity to enjoy and express against such revered opposition.
The scoring was completed in the eighty-third minute when Cole’s cross from the right was hit on the half volley by Nolan whose execution was perfect and left the superb Russell no chance.
Speaking after the game Wood Boss Ian Allinson commented, “The passing of Ryan Moran really puts everything into perspective. This game was all about getting match fit through playing games rather than training hard. We chased the ball for most of the night as you would expect. I was pleased with the effort and discipline the whole Squad showed. They stuck to their tasks and did not let me down.”
On the striker subject he added, “I was pleased with Donovan in the first half and both Liam and Calum second half. Playing against that level of opposition they did as well as can be expected.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones (Sub – Moone 63 mins.), Garrard, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Morgan (Sub – Whitely 63 mins.), Bentley (Sub – Brown 81 mins.), Simmonds (Sub – Enver-Marum 45 mins.), Noto (Sub – Sterling – Parker 81 mins.), Montgomery (Sub – Willock 63 mins.).
Goals: West Ham United: Morrison 20, Vaz Te 21, Nolan 83.