Hertfordshire F.A. Senior Challenge Cup – Second Round
Hertford Town 2 Boreham Wood 1
by John Mead
Town belied their seventeenth position in the Spartan South Midlands Football League to issue a further blow to a Wood side Managed on the night by Jason Goodliffe. Wood were forced to make changes as the bizarre ruling in this Competition means that only players registered prior to the original tie date of 9 December could participate.
There was no sign of what was to follow when Mario Noto’s excellent forty yard cross field ball picked out Simeon Akinola on the left. The teenager showed great composure rounding the last defender before laying up into the path of Gareth Risbridger who slammed home after just seven minutes. Yet Town, who have a history of prolific goal scorers, think Kevin Cooper, have another in their midst in the shape of James Peagram, whom prior to this fixture had already netted eighteen times this Season. His nineteenth came just three minutes after Wood looked to have put their recent woes behind them. A free kick just outside the penalty area on the left was cleared only as far as Peagram who rifled a superb volley into the top right hand corner of Ashlee Jones’ goal, which the Wood shot stopper saw little of.
Wood were by far the better side up until the half time break. Ali Chaaban hit a low drive that ‘keeper Alex Elf parried for a corner, before Luke Garrard ran onto a Noto corner, yet he dismally failed to connect. Noto was running the show at this stage pinging balls all over the park. Greg Morgan tested Elf, Akinola asked a lot of the Town shot stopper with an angled shot that was met with a full stretch save, yet at half time Wood had nothing to show for their efforts.
The unrest in the Wood camp came in the shape of a total lack of penetration in the final third, which served to buoy the home side. The final ball into danger was at best hopeful and at worst plain embarrassing. Step forward Peagram who had little problem when duly fed in leaving the Wood defence in his wake. He left Ryan Moran standing before the Wood stalwart managed to get back and make an all important challenge. Peagram gave Town their only game plan and he duly delivered after 66 minutes.
Chet Johnson who came into the game as the tie wore on battled like a trojan down the right flank. Patience prevailed and on the third occasion he sent the leading goal scorer free down the right a goal came. With Moran caught out of position he ran to the bye line drawing the Wood defence before cutting a fine ball across the goal mouth which Substitute Reece Dobson guided home at the far post. Wood still had plenty of time to rally a victory. Unfortunately for them the prowess of a dogged defence, coupled with an inane lack of fire power saw the tie slip away. Morgan missed two easy chances in the space of a minute, by which time the outstanding Tom Neill at something like five feet six inches had entered the zone. It felt that if a train had come hurtling through the nearby Hertford East Station wearing a Wood shirt he would have thrown himself in front of it! Wayward shooting from Noto added to the misery.
Moran was thrown into attack and won the majority of his headers, yet the Town defence held firm. Substitute Liam Griffin should have picked out Charlie Hunter from his penetrative run, yet guided the ball straight to that man Neill who cleared the danger.
A late chance of taking the tie into extra time came from a free kick just twenty two yards out. Moran’s effort was easily taken by Elf, who may like to have a quiet word with the fairies to see if there can be a way of resurrecting the Season on Wood’s behalf.
There are four new signings available for Saturday’s game at home to Chelmsford City which will be one of the toughest challenges the side have faced to date this Season.
Team: Jones, Close (Sub – Yala 78 mins.), Kamara, Hunter (Sub – Scott-Morris 89 mins.), Moran, Garrard, Noto, Risbridger, Akinola (Sub – Griffin 62 mins.), Chaaban, Morgan.
Goals: Hertford Town: Peagram 10, Dobson 66. Boreham Wood: Risbridger 7.
Man of the Match: Luke Garrard.