Blue Square Bet South
Tonbridge Angels 4 Boreham Wood 2
by John Mead
A topsy turvy affair at Longmead Stadium ultimately resulted in Wood’s heaviest defeat of the Season. Yet the character showed by his beleaguered side drew praise from Manager Ian Allinson.
“We entered the game missing five first team players, if you add to the three suspended players the injuries to Mario Noto and Mauro Vilhete. We had a horrible start, yet I looked for character in the players that were available and they did not disappoint. Going forward we delivered our best performance this Season, but missed enough chances to win two games. However when you defend as naively as we did on occasions the task of winning is made all the harder.”
Wood welcomed Jerel Ifil into the fold who made his First Team debut at centre back. It was a big ask for the thirty year old who made 210 appearances for Swindon Town and he quickly adapted, turning in an assured performance.
In the time it took to drive around the equivalent of the perimeter of the field in the horrendous queue for the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Wood found themselves two goals down.
The first after just five minutes materialised when Mark Jones allowed Rory Hill to get a dangerous cross over from the right. Centre forward George Purcell opened his Season’s account with a superb header that had the beating of James Russell. Slack defending from Callum Reynolds just two minutes later gifted Purcell with a further opportunity. A looping ball forward down the left flank from Henry Muggeridge set Purcell free and with the normally reliable Reynolds allowing the front man space to predate he had time to pick his spot to punish Wood further.
This left Wood a mountain to climb and they slowly set about affecting the game. A Chez Isaac cross found its way to Cliff Akurang via a defender and his shot on the turn tested Lee Worgan in The Angels goal. The presence of Akurang who was a real threat allowed Wood to redress the balance after twenty-eight minutes. A long ball forward from Lee Close into the penalty area saw Akurang easily turn his marker Ollie Schulz who could do nothing more than bring the experienced striker to ground, allowing the reliable Omer Riza to score from the spot.
Tonbridge Angels were immediately deflated and Wood swiftly took control of the game, although it took until the sixty-sixth minute to make their prominence count. Akurang almost set up Riza who was denied by a fine block from Ben Judge, before The Angels defence allowed Akurang enough space to hit a fierce drive that struck the crossbar.
David Hutton and Riza then combined through the middle with Akurang shooting over the bar, before the half ended with Greg Morgan finishing a fine move involving Isaac, Riza and Graeme Montgomery. The legs of Worgan left the home side with a slender advantage.
With Wood fans now predicting a win, the second half was more of the same. Close and Isaac worked a fine move onto Riza who set up Hutton just twelve yards out in a central position. Worgan’s point blank save warranted the Sponsor’s “Man of the Match” award he received.
Hutton again went close on the break, denied by a fine interception from Lee Browning before the inevitable equaliser came minutes later. Isaac who was influential in the middle of the park stole possession from his opposite number Sonny Miles giving Riza license to probe and pass. Akurang delivered a delightful lob to the far post picking out the run of Hutton who steered home from a tight angle. Alas the mood was soured just a minute later. Close was penalised for a shirt pull and up stepped goal machine Frannie Collin to embarrass Russell at his right hand post with a quite brilliantly struck free kick from fully thirty yards out.
Wood then found the extra gear required in the situation. Worgan kept out first Morgan then Montgomery in quick succession, before Isaac provided for Riza whose shot hit the outside of the upright. With The Angels clinging on by their nails Akurang was again the target for Isaac who drew Worgan off his line. He beat the ‘keeper to the ball, yet with no outlet went for a second one on one with the ‘keeper who out muscled the ex-Barnet forward, again saving his side.
Collin then forced Russell into a one handed flying save, this time from thirty-five yards out, before Morgan and Inih Effiong combined allowing Riza a first time effort on the turn that needed only to hit the target, which flew over the bar.
The frantic finish continued with Collin striking the outside of the upright, before Ifil departed with a hamstring injury, leaving Wood decidedly light at the back. This allowed Browning to poach a fourth and telling goal in the eighty-ninth minute when he showed close control inside the box.
There was still time for Effiong to fire over leaving Ian Allinson to add, “We had a great fluency about us after going two down early on, but the defending let us down. It was a real plus to get eighty minutes from Cliff Akurang, who along with Omer Riza will be a real threat for us this Season. Greg Morgan came through well after injury and I was very impressed with young Lee Close at right back and the work that Chez and Monty put in, in the middle of the park.”
Team: Russell, Close, Jones, Morgan (Sub – Hastings 86 mins.), Ifil (Sub – Doolan 88 mins), Reynolds, Hutton, Isaac, Riza, Akurang (Sub – Effiong 80 mins.), Montgomery.
Subs (Not used): Scott-Morris, Baker-Owers.
Goals: Tonbridge Angels: Purcell 5, 7. Collin 67, Browning 89. Boreham Wood: Riza 28 pen., Hutton 66.
Man of the Match: Omer Riza.