Angol Left with a Pain In The Harris!
Vanarama Conference South.
Havant & Waterlooville 2 Boreham Wood 1,
by John Mead.
The Hawks can consider themselves lucky to extend their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions, knocking Wood off the top of the table in the process.
September was marvellous for Lee Bradbury winning Manager Of The Month, which is often considered a curse. On this occasion his side managed to keep the witches quiet, more by a resolute defensive display than an attacking masterclass.
It was Wood who provided the silky football in a game which both sides set a standard that would not have been out of place in the next Division. However the achievement of promotion requires a large dose of consistency and this was Wood’s second 1-2 defeat on the road in succession even though both results were harsh given the relative performances.
Wood continued to produce some of their best football of the season, showing their dedicated band of travelling fans and the paying public of Hampshire alike that they have not been in the top five all season by fluke. Ricky Shakes and Matty Whichelow were simply unplayable and combined excellently all afternoon. Their target man Angol had a titanic battle with centre back Ed Harris who could count himself lucky that his act of standing on Callum Reynolds in one attack in the penalty area went unnoticed. That said it was down to Harris’ contribution that Wood went home empty handed, especially given the fact that his dominance over Angol at times led to the frustration that earned the leading goalscorer his first of two yellow cards of the afternoon.
The massive void left by Benn Nunn seems to have been seamlessly covered given the performance of 22 year old debutante Jordan Brown. The left back signed during the week from Luton Town and with Greg Morgan switching to right back the pair offered fine attacking options.
Wood got off to a flyer and it took them a whole six minutes to destroy the Hawks record of not conceding a goal since August.
Playing on the offensive from the kick off the pressure was mounting on the Hawks defence and a poor clearance was seized upon by Lee Angol who troubled keeper Ryan Young who could only half clear. Ricky Shakes pounced upon the loose ball and with Young off guard he crossed into danger towards Graeme Montgomery who was pushed off the ball by a defender, resulting in referee Mr Hulme pointing to the spot. Angol coolly stepped up to fire Wood into the lead, his tenth goal in all competitions this season.
The Hawks then got a foothold in the game winning a string of corners. The first after 18 minutes forced James Russell into a fine low save from a Nic Ciardini effort from the edge of the area. Then Bradley Bubb drove into the area with his cross bound for the boot of JJ Hooper just cleared for another corner. The resultant delivery was cleared initially by Reynolds, but the second ball into danger came off the back of his head and ran loose for Hooper who could not miss from just six yards out.
Wood were superb in possession and continued to create chances. Whichelow and Shakes combined with Brown on the overlap who sent a ball in to the area for Whichelow whose diving header was kept out by a superb reaction save from Young.
Whichelow and Shakes carved open the defence again two minutes later leaving Angol to tee up Montgomery who saw his shot deflected behind. The game ebbed and flowed with Scott Thomas providing superb cover to deny Bubb at the other end.
Wood were wasteful from set pieces with the deliveries too close to Young to be of any benefit and went to sleep whilst defending one after 43 minutes to go behind. A corner from the left was hit long and headed back into danger allowing Harris to head home beyond Russell.
Angol who was the subject of some rough treatment all afternoon managed to get to the goal line unimpeded to set up Shakes who was foiled by Young’s fine point blank save.
Angol then picked up a card for an off the ball incident with Mr Hulme seemingly the only one able to stem the flow of Wood dominance with a series of lengthy lectures. Montgomery saw another effort blocked by a defender before Whichelow hit a fine drive after another superb tackle from Sam Cox who was quite brilliant all afternoon. Young spilled the save and with Angol sprinting onto the loose ball he went down under the challenge of a defender. There was contact but Mr Hulme failed to spot it, giving Angol his marching orders for simulation.
Allinson went for broke introducing Austin Lipman and David Moli at the expense of Thomas and Montgomery. With a man short Wood were still the side looking likelier to score. Cox and Whichelow combined with the latter’s superb reverse pass inch perfect for Moli whose curling effort had the beating of Young but went the wrong side of the post.
Lipman and Moli saw further efforts blocked but in the end the gallant effort proved fruitless as the final whistle sounded, giving the home side their turn at the top for the first time in six seasons.
In summary Ian Allinson concluded that, “ We bossed the whole game save for the two short spells when they scored. To do that away from home against one of the favourites for the title fills me with pride. We seemed to use their set plays as a rest period which is frustrating as it cost us the game and we need to defend those plays better. I though the whole team were excellent today especially the midfield . I will be looking at the video of Lee’s sending off as I thought it was harsh. We set up to play attacking football as that is the style best suited to the personnel I have this season. Last year we could have set ourselves out to play for a 1-0 win and defended our lead for hours on end. That is not what we are about now and we will keep believing in that philosophy.”
Team: Russell, Morgan, Brown, Cox, Hill, Reynolds, Whichelow, Shakes, Angol, Thomas ( Moli 78), Montgomery (Lipman 78).
Subs not used: Garrard, Noto, Courtnage.
Bookings: Angol ( sent off 74, two yellows cards), Morgan.
Goals: Havant & Waterlooville: Hooper 21, Harris 43.
Boreham Wood: Angol 6 pen.
Man Of The Match: Ricky Shakes.