Boreham Wood 1 – 0 Southend United 
Tuesday 14th March 2023
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League


Zak Brunt marked the visit of his former club with the winner as the Wood narrowly overcame fellow play-off hopefuls Southend United to make it five wins in a row.

The Shrimpers will have been disappointed to not take the lead in the first half, before an instant impact from Dennon Lewis saw him involved in the opener after coming on as he was deemed to have been taken out by Ollie Kensdale, with former Shrimper Brunt converting the spot-kick to open the scoring. It was a tale of two penalties though as the Blues had the chance to level almost immediately after when Chris Wreh’s cross was adjudged to have hit a Wood hand, but Nathan Ashmore was the hero as he guessed the right way to deny Jack Bridge’s effort and keep their lead intact.

Defeat for Eastleigh at the hands of Notts County means victory over Kevin Maher’s men sees the Wood leapfrog their play-off rivals into 6th in the National League table, extending the gap to those outside the top seven to six points ahead of a trip to Solihull Moors on Saturday.

Luke Garrard made just one change to the starting line-up with Femi Ilesanmi returning from injury to replace Cameron Coxe, meaning last week’s matchwinner Érico Sousa took his place on the opposite flank after scoring his first goal for the club.

The first chance of the game fell to the visitors inside a minute as Rhys Murphy headed a tame effort into the gloves of Ashmore, but a cagey opening to proceeding meant this would be the only chance in the first ten minutes.

Southend seemed to enjoy the bulk of the possession early on, but the Wood controlled the ball whenever they took hold of it and it was from some neat interplay in midfield that led to a golden opportunity for the hosts. George Broadbent swept the ball out to Sousa who drove into the penalty area before reaching the byline with some good skill to beat Nathan Ralph, before sending a low cross into the danger area that was cleared as far as Tyrone Marsh. The Wood number ten tried to get it under control before laying it off to Brunt who returned the favour after being quickly closed down, before Marsh finally curled the ball goalward with his strike being sent behind for a corner by Ollie Kensdale, and the resulting set piece was volleyed over the crossbar by Ilesanmi.

Ashmore would be called into action at the other end shortly after as he denied the Shrimpers with an excellent save to claw away Harry Cardwell’s superb downward header from close range, with Gus Scott-Morriss sending the rebound inches wide. The Blues continued to pile the pressure on though, and almost went ahead moments later when Murphy headed Jack Bridge’s cross over the crossbar.

This preceded another good chance for the visitors with Wes Fonguck latching onto a long ball from deep before firing across the penalty area, but nobody was able to get on the end of his delivery.

It quickly began to bucket down under the night sky, but just as the heavens opened up, so did Southend. Despite seeing the better of things throughout the half, the Wood produced a handful of good chances towards the end of it and almost opened the scoring when Brunt made a good run before firing goalward with Ralph blocking his shot, much to the frustration of fellow Sheffield United loanee Broadbent who was perhaps better placed to receive a pass. However, Lee Ndlovu picked up the pieces and showed excellent strength to fashion an opening of his own, before being penalised for a foul by the referee.

Chances began to dry up as the game approached half time, but Marsh almost gave the Wood the lead on the stroke of the break when he fired over the crossbar from a tight angle, before Ilesanmi saw an effort cleared off the line and away for a corner following Chris Bush’s throw-in, with the subsequent delivery leading to nothing as the two sides went into the interval goalless.

HT: Boreham Wood 0-0 Southend United

Keen to avoid going behind against a potential play-off rival, the Wood smelt blood at the start of the second half and evidently upped the intensity as they looked to break the deadlock. They twice hit the woodwork mere minutes after the restart after another Bush throw-in caused havoc in the penalty area, with the ball seemingly being flicked onto the post by a Southend player with Brunt ready to pounce, and the resulting corner was then met by Ilesanmi who’s header clipped the crossbar.

The Shrimpers quickly regained control though and matched the intensity shown by the hosts early on, earning a couple of corners as they began to increase the pressure. They would go close to an opener as some good work from Cardwell saw the striker turn well to create a chance for himself before firing inches wide of the far post from close range, although it was deemed to have taken a nick off a Wood player with the referee awarding another corner.

In an attempt to stretch the game, Garrard introduced Lewis as they looked to regain control and take the lead, and they began to push forward in their pursuit of an opener.

This allowed Southend the chance to charge forward, and they caught their opponents at sixes and sevens as a result with Murphy combining with Cardwell to send the latter away through the middle. The Wood recovered with Jamal Fyfield forcing Cardwell backwards, but he was able to find Bridge on the left flank who picked out Scott-Morriss who’s strike was blocked on the line, and they somehow weren’t able to force the ball over as Ashmore eventually gathered.

Ashmore would be called into action again almost immediately after as Shaun Hobson shot from the edge of the box through a crowd of bodies, with the Wood stopper holding onto the ball.

The opener would soon be on its way, however clouded with controversy and to plenty of frustration in the away end. Lewis drove into the penalty area and went down under a challenge from Kensdale, and although it seemed the referee was set to wave away the appeals, after taking a moment to decide opted to point to the spot. It was former Southend loanee Brunt who stepped up before sending a rocket of a shot past Steve Arnold to finally break the deadlock.

They almost saw their lead wiped away instantly though Wreh’s cross seemingly hit a Wood hand with the referee pointing to the spot for a second time, but Bridge wasn’t quite as successful as his former teammate with Ashmore diving to his right to deny the Southend man.

They almost extended their advantage moments later as Ndlovu made his way into the penalty area before seeing his shot saved by Arnold, with a couple of efforts by Noor Husin at the other end being kept out as well. Wreh would then set up Harry Taylor at the death who’s side-footed effort was blocked, before seven minutes of added time was signalled by the Fourth Official.

A barrage of pressure was unsurprisingly piled on by the Shrimpers as they looked to steal a draw, but the Wood were able to see out all three points and seal a fifth win a row.

FT: Boreham Wood 1-0 Southend United

Boreham Wood: Ashmore; Agbontohoma, Fyfield, Bush; Sousa, Payne, Broadbent, Ilesammi; Brunt (Rees 81’); Ndlovu (Newton 88’), Marsh (Lewis 66’)

Subs Not Used: Evans, Coxe

Goal: Brunt 75’

Southend United: Arnold; Hobson, Kensdale, Ralph; Scott-Morriss, Husin (Taylor 87’), Miley, Fonguck (Mooney 82’), Bridge; Murphy (Wreh 71’), Cardwell

Subs Not Used: Lomas, Powell

Star Man: Zak Brunt



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