Southend 0 – 1 Boreham Wood
Saturday 6th August 2022
Roots Hall, Vanarama National League

WOOD SEAL HARD-EARNED VICTORY ON OPENING DAY

The Wood got off to a bang on opening day, kicking off the 2022/23 National League season with a win at Southend United as a first half goal from Danny Newton to secure a narrow 1-0 victory despite two red cards for Lee Ndlovu and Dion Kelly-Evans in the second half.

New recruits Kelly-Evans, Ndlovu, Newton, Jack Payne, Erico Sousa and Zak Brunt were among the starting XI as Luke Garrard named a heavily rotated team from last season, and it was two of the summer signings that combined to open the scoring on 28 minutes when Kelly-Evans was set away down the right flank, with the wing-back delivering a low ball into the danger area where Newton was waiting to poke home the Wood’s first goal of the season.

The hosts controlled much of the game and will have been disappointed to not find an equaliser, but were handed a lifeline when Ndlovu was sent for an early bath after throwing an arm out on Ollie Kensdale. This injected some life into the hosts who continued to pile the pressure on, and were given more hope when the Wood were reduced to nine men after Kelly-Evans saw red for a two-footed challenge on Tom Clifford.

They were unable to take advantage of a whole host of opportunities, allowing the Wood to bring all three points back to Hertfordshire on opening day.

A positive start from the hosts saw them produce the first opening of the match after six minutes. Southend put pressure on Sousa who lost possession in a dangerous area on the left flank, giving Dan Mooney the opportunity to send a curling effort over the crossbar.

Chances were certainly at a premium early on although Southend looked the brighter of the two sides, however it was the Wood who created the next opportunity when a quick free kick from Brunt sent Newton down the right-hand side. The former Solihull Moors man crossed towards Ndlovu but he was unable to get the desired contact with his header and the chance broke down, before a clash of heads caused a brief stoppage.

The visitors grew into the game and began to take control of proceedings, breaking the deadlock shortly before the half-hour mark. An excellent through ball from the middle of the pitch allowed Kelly-Evans to cause problems on the right-hand side before picking out Newton in acres of space in the middle, who tapped home on the slide to give them the lead.

They would have another golden opportunity on the stroke of half time as Ndlovu produced some excellent work to reach the byline and make his way into the box but nobody was able to get on the end of his delivery. The ball was then picked up by Payne on the edge of the box who sent an effort straight down the throat of Steve Arnold, who was able to comfortably gather and prevent the visitors from doubling their advantage.

HT: Southend United 0-1 Boreham Wood

The second half began in a similar vein to the first as Southend looked to find an equaliser, and their determination saw them have the first chance after the break, falling to substitute Callum Powell who stood over a free kick after Mooney went down under a challenge from Payne, but his strike flew inches wide of Nathan Ashmore’s near post.

A handful of half chances for Clifford saw him have an effort blocked and a dangerous cross headed away by Jamal Fyfield, moments before Powell forced Ashmore into a crucial outstretched save in their search for a leveller.

Ashmore would need to be on hand to make another wonderful stop shortly after to deny Chris Wreh from point blank range, but the hosts were seemingly gifted a route back into the game moments later when the Wood went down to ten men after Ndlovu saw red for violent conduct.

This restored faith for the home crowd who roared their team on, and Southend will surely want to see the back of Ashmore after he made another excellent save. Noor Husin teed up Cavaghn Miley on the edge of the box who sent a volley goalward, but Ashmore produced a wonderful save and was somehow able to hold onto the ball as well. This preceded another golden opportunity moments later, but Wreh was unable to keep his effort from close range on target when well-placed.

Southend continued to dominate and were determined to not give up without a fight. Husin wanted a penalty after going down in the box but the referee waved away the appeals, but the hosts were handed another lifeline when Kelly-Evans was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Clifford.

They were unable to take advantage though, with Powell having one last chance right at the death as he fired over from close range, allowing the Wood to seal an extremely hard-fought win.

FT: Southend United 0-1 Boreham Wood

Boreham Wood: Ashmore, Kelly-Evans, Ilesamni, Ricketts, Evans, Ndlovu, Newton (Elliott 72’), Fyfield, Payne, Sousa, Brunt (Rees 77’)

Subs Not Used: Stephens, Marsh, Lewis

Goal: Newton 28′

Southend United: Arnold, Ralph, Hobson, Kensdale, Bridge (Powell 45’), Husin, Mooney (Fonguck 84’), Clifford, Taylor, Miley, Hyde (Wreh 11’)

Subs Not Used: Lomas, Crowhurst

Star Man: Nathan Ashmore

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