The Return Of The Famous Four!
The F A Cup Third Qualifying Round.
Maidstone United 0 Boreham Wood 2,
by John Mead.
With his whole squad to pick from for the first time this season, Wood Boss Ian Allinson hailed “A gamble that paid off. Callum Reynolds has not played a single competitive game this season, Ben Nunn has just returned from holiday and Greg Morgan has been sidelined for two weeks, but I felt it needed to be done and it worked. Match fitness was a real concern but deep down I know exactly what I am going to get from these players.”
The return of the famous four in defence allowed Wood to overcome a tricky tie against a side top of the Ryman Premier and unbeaten in ten matches. In fact this was their first defeat at The Gallagher Stadium all season, in front of nearly 1800 fans.
“It was important to keep the crowd quiet for the first twenty minutes and I though we did that superbly” added Allinson.
Indeed Billy Lobjoit fired just wide after twenty six seconds for Wood who restricted a football team that is backed by a passionate and proud following to few chances.
There were some slick passing moves hitherto missing from Wood on a synthetic 3G surface that allows no error in judgement as it plays true in every area of the park.
Graeme Montgomery shot at Lee Worgan before Morgan won his first of many free kicks just outside the penalty area with the home side failing to deal his close control whilst moving at pace.
Charlie O ‘Loughlin was impassable all afternoon, whilst his sideman Reynolds showed what an important member of the side he is, defending resolutely and turning defence into attack with a natural instinct that was dearly missing in the side since his pre season injury.
Steve Watt drew a save from James Russell heading towards his near post from a corner, whilst Donovan Simmonds forced Jerrome Sobers to concede several corners at the other end.
Simmonds accepted a cross from Reynolds but skewed his effort side of the target. The Stones then broke through the Wood defence with a fine ball down the middle of the park from Alex Brown releasing Zac Attwood but he shot weakly at Russell.
Nunn then blocked two efforts on goal with Luke Garrard heading to safety before the lively Orlando Smith blasted over. Back came Wood with Morgan shaping a volley just over the bar.
The home side were dangerous on the break when Brown cut a ball across the box from the right that eluded everybody.
Wood were very slightly the better side all over the park until the home side went behind, which tipped the balance very much in their favour. It was a slightly surreal moment of calm when a grey wagtail settled just inside the Wood half, seemingly duped into foraging for some sustenance amongst the plastic grass. Morgan launched a long throw into the penalty area from the left only for Jack Sullivan to head the ball over Worgan and into the net. The resounding silence that followed did little to deter the wagtail from its quest and Wood were on their way.
Reynolds found himself unmarked in the box, heading a Morgan cross just wide, before fortune again went in Wood’s favour. A fluffed shot from Lobjoit ran into the path of Montgomery who was fouled by Sullivan inside the area. Garrard took up the mantle of penalty taker and placed his shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
There were still more than twenty five minutes for the home side to get back into the game yet Wood were in no mood to concede. Defending superbly they restricted the Ryman League leaders to a Watt header at the near post that O’Loughlin headed behind for a corner and an effort from the edge of the area from Brown that went just wide.
With seven minutes remaining Simmonds went clean through on goal on the counter attack only for Tom Mills to bring him down just outside the area for which he received a straight red card.
Matthew Ball went close for Wood , before Wood themselves relinquished the man advantage when Simmonds was sent from the field of play after reacting to a challenge, an act that Wood Boss Allinson declared, “ Would be dealt with internally.”
In summary Allinson was left to thank his returning stars , “The first goal allowed us to play counter attacking football which led to us going on and winning . It is great to still be involved with the First Round Proper just one game away but that all goes on the back burner for now. We go to Basingstoke next Saturday and we need to come back with all three points. The Skrill South is an extremely tough league and when you come up short in areas you get punished as our current league position shows. We had our shape back today. Luke Garrard could return to his best position in front of the back four and this allowed the wide players to push on. I felt sad that I had to leave Jerome Jibodu out as he has been superb for us.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Cox, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Montgomery, Garrard, Simmonds, Lobjoit (Ball 81), Morgan ( Hastings 78).
Subs not used: Jibodu, Longden, Courtnage, Sterling-Parker.
Bookings: Reynolds, Jones, Simmonds (sent off 86).
Goals: Boreham Wood: 56 og, Garrard (pen) 64.
Man Of The Match: Charlie O’Loughlin.