SAINTS VICTORY SETS UP WIMBLEDON GRAND SLAM

Boreham Wood 4 – 0 St Albans City
Monday 6th December 7.45pm
The LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park, Emirates FA Cup

Boreham Wood have made history as a thumping 4-0 victory over local rivals St Albans City was enough to see them through to the FA Cup Third Round, for just the second time in their history.

The ITV cameras were present to cover the first Hertfordshire derby since 2019, in front of a record attendance of 4,101, and the cold December night was clearly not going to faze the hosts. It was nearly a dream start as a cross from Kane Smith was floated into the path of Scott Boden, who’s side-footed volley went just wide of the far post. The Wood saw plenty of the ball during the opening stages and had a number of half chances, with Dave Stephens and Tyrone Marsh both going close, but they were unable to make the breakthrough. They nearly paid the price for a lack of cutting edge as St Albans’ first opportunity nearly broke the deadlock. A free kick delivery from John Goddard met the head of Joy Mukena but he was unable to direct his header on target. The game would soon go a bit flat as chances seemed to dry up and the hosts struggled to maintain a foothold of the game. The Saints certainly grew into it, but perhaps against the run of play Josh Rees gave the home side the lead. An initial long-range effort from the midfielder was deflected high and into the path of Jacob Mendy Mendy, who’s scuffed effort preceded a scuffed clearance from the defender, who sent the ball into the path of Rees to drill a first time half-volley into the back of the net. The visitors tried to hit back immediately, as ex-Wood man Shaun Jeffers tried to send Goddard through on goal with a neat flick before Mitchell Weiss created a superb opening for Zane Banton, who’s first touch let him down. St Albans looked particularly dangerous from set pieces throughout the first half, and this was evident on the 37th minute. A third corner in quick succession was headed towards goal by Callum Adebiyi, with the woodwork sparing the blushes of the beaten Taye Ashby-Hammond as the eventual effort from Dave Diedhou cannoned off the crossbar. This would prove nothing more than alarm bells for the hosts, who were determined not to let their lead slip.

Alas, Boreham Wood started the second half as they meant to go on, with Rees heading home a Smith cross to net his and his side’s second of the evening, doubling their lead just four minutes after the restart. He nearly sealed his hat-trick a few minutes later, attempting a clever backheel that bounced just wide of the post. Chances would continue for the Wood as they looked to suffocate their opponents every time they received the ball. St Albans were unable to maintain an extended spell in possession, while Smith nearly finished off a lovely move when he fired his effort at Coniah Boyce-Clarke in the Saints goal. Arguably the best chance of the game for the away side fell to Kyran Wiltshire, who received the ball on the edge of the box after a poor clearance and sent a drive towards goal that got a late deflection to send it up and over the bar. What was perhaps a glimmer of hope for the visitors was soon be squashed before their very eyes, as Gus Mafuta sealed the victory just a couple of minutes later. Will Evans sent a high ball from deep towards Mendy who took it under control before floating a cross into the danger area, where a late run from Mafuta saw him meet the ball and connect to send a powerful header past Boyce-Clarke. It got even better as the game reached the final ten minutes as substitute Adrian Clifton made an immediate impact, receiving a cut-back from Boden, taking a touch and calmly rolling the ball past Boyce-Clarke to extend the lead and net his first goal for Boreham Wood, having only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes. Luke Garrard’s men were cruising and in firm control. It was nearly a real five-star performance too as new signing Nile Ranger came ever so close to scoring a debut goal almost instantly, but he was unable to turn his effort home after being sent through one on one.

Five minutes of added time went by before the referee blew the final whistle to confirm St Albans’ exit from England’s oldest competition. However, the only thing that mattered was that Boreham Wood will get the chance to make amends from their Third Round defeat to Millwall last season, facing League One side AFC Wimbledon at the start of January. The pitch invasion at the end said it all, and unlike the last one, fans will be allowed to witness this historic occasion and get the LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park rocking once again, to urge the team towards a Fourth Round tie hopefully against one of the big boys.

Boreham Wood: Ashby-Hammond, Evans, Stephens, Fyfield, Mendy Mendy, K Smith (Clifton 78), Ricketts, Rees, Mafuta (Raymond 76), Boden (Ranger 86), Marsh (Comley 86).

Subs not used: Roach, C.Smith.

St Albans: Boyce-Clark, Wiltshire (Brown 77), Jeffers, Banton, Diedhiou (Bender 66), Dawson (Noble 66), Weiss (Akinola 88), Lankshear, Adebiyi, Mukena, Goddard.

Subs not used: Johnson, Clark, Meakes, Austin.

Star Man: Josh Rees

Match report written by Aaron Bennis

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