Vanarama Conference South.
Chelmsford City 3 Boreham Wood 4,
by John Mead.
Wood have pole position going into the Play Offs after this highly entertaining match. Needing just a point to secure second place, they dominated the game, yet showed a frailty on occasions to allow the home side take their opportunities to make this a gripping encounter.
This fixture has the unerring ability to produce goals in abundance. When Graeme Montgomery finished off a superb flowing move to secure the win with nine minutes remaining, it was the 24th goal in four meetings between the two sides!
Ian Allinson’s men produced a free flowing style of football that harked back to the first half of this season. Lee Angol opened the scoring after 15 minutes in some style, having already missed a fine opportunity when he burst past Marvin Ekpiteta allowing keeper Tom Lovelock the chance to save with his legs.
Angol was back to full fitness after several weeks and it showed. When he was hauled to the ground just two yards outside the penalty area he got up to hit a superb free kick into the top corner of the net, leaving Lovelock well beaten.
Angol’s strike lofted him to the position of the leagues joint top scorer and Wood continued to press forward creating chances. Then, out of the blue a combination error of misjudgement, communication and a bouncy surface between James Russell and Josh Hill gifted The Clarets a corner and their first attack of the game. It was met superbly by Harry Hickford, a player previously on loan at Meadow Park, who stole in unmarked to bury a superb header past Russell to level the match.
The goal out of nothing took Wood briefly out of their comfort zone and roared on by their largest gate of the season Ekpiteta flicked a header just wide of Russell’s post from the restart.
Wood soon regrouped however with both Hill and Callum Reynolds spraying useful fifty yard passes out to the wings for both Montgomery and Ricky Shakes to heap pressure on The Clarets defence.
With 32 minutes played, Wood won a free kick out on the right. Montgomery stepped up and using the wind to his advantage delivered the perfect cross that curled dangerously towards the far post. It was guided home beyond Lovelock by the slightest of touches by Reynolds and Wood were in front again.
Back came The Clarets with another shaky moment in the Wood defence leading to Russell missing the flight of a Michael Cheek cross, relying on his defence to clear off the line.
If the defence were showing pre play off nerves, the midfield in particular remained fully focused. Sam Cox just two minutes after the restart epitomised his faultless afternoon winning possession with a header before threading a sublime ball between two defenders for Junior Morias to chase. Morias had looked ravenous in front of goal and in his mood there was only going to be one outcome, the diminutive striker slotting home past the outrushing Lovelock into the bottom corner of the net.
Shakes almost converted a cross to put the game to bed, but this Chelmsford City side showed no signs of giving up the fight. Their inclusion of youth product Hugo Skepelhorn almost provided the youngster with a day he would never forget. He got beyond Reynolds laying up for Cheek who saw his shot beat Russell, only for the outstanding Ben Herd to clear off the goal line.
The end to end action continued unabated, when a long clearance from Russell found Angol whose one touch sent the ball into the path of Morias whose blistering volley drew a spectacular save from Lovelock.
Angol had chances to go clear in the leading scorer table, firing over after fine work from Shakes and Montgomery, before a sublime touch from Morias inside the area left the entire defence flat footed. Angol could only shoot straight at Lovelock when through on goal.
The two goal cushion soon became one, when Wood failed to cut out a cross from the right which was met by the head of Rohdell Gordon. Hill miscued his goal line clearance and the striker stuck out a leg to force home another gifted goal, after 71 minutes.
Four minutes later The Clarets levelled in some style. Substitutes Evans Kouassi and Leon Redwood combined to produce a moment that almost took the roof off the packed stand at Melbourne Park. Kouassi accelerated through the middle playing a ball to Redwood on the left who hit surely the best goal of his career, a spectacular left footed strike from thirty yards out that left Russell no chance.
The pits of the stomachs began to tighten in the one hundred members of the travelling “Wood Army” assembled behind the goal for the first time on the afternoon. On came Matty Whichelow to settle the nerves. Just four minutes after being introduced he gathered possession on the right before cutting inside to cross . Shakes met the ball with a deft touch into the path of Montgomery who expertly slotted home.
Russell flew through the air to keep out a superb strike from Gordon at the other end as the news filtered through that Wood will travel to Havant and Waterlooville this Wednesday in their quest for promotion to The National League.
Team: Russell, Nunn, Herd, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Thomas, Shakes, Angol ( Whichelow 77), Morias ( Walker 85), Montgomery.
Subs not used: Garrard, Martin, Courtnage.
Goals: Chelmsford City: Hickford 22, Rohdell 71, Redwood 75.
Boreham Wood: Angol 15, Reynolds 32, Morias 47, Montgomery 81.
Man Of the Match: Junior Morias.