Boreham Wood    1    An Arsenal X1    3

by Football Exclusives’ Tashan Deniran-Alleyne

Boreham Wood’s unbeaten Pre-Season came to an end against an Arsenal XI who managed to turn around a one goal half time deficit to run out 1 – 3 winners, as goals from Sanchez Watt, Chuba Akpom and Kristoffer Olsson cancelled out Omer Riza’s early goal.    The game marked the first game in charge of the Youth side for Terry Burton following his return to the Club early in the Summer, he included the likes of fringe First teamers in Conor Henderson and  Sanchez Watt.

Riza was handed a start against his former side, partnering Elliott Buchanan in attack, with in form Inih Effiong dropping to the Substitutes bench, the only other change saw veteran Mark Jones replace Lewis Ferrell in defence.    The visitors almost made the perfect start after three minutes when Watt was clean through on goal but Wood ‘keeper James Russell was alert to deny the forward, the away side settled in to their passing game and went close again from a Henderson free kick which was deflected just wide for a corner.

The opening goal arrived after thirteen minutes for the hosts when Graeme Montgomery worked himself into space on the right hand side and picked out Omer Riza with a teasing cross and the striker glanced his header past Damian Martinez to give Wood the lead.

The gunners responded well and came close to an equaliser three minutes later after a patient build up resulted in Jernade Meade cutting in from the left and his shot was inches away from creeping into the far corner.    Seconds later Watt almost capitalised on some slack defending but was denied by Luke Garrard who made a superb last ditch tackle to prevent an effort on goal.    Josh Rees should have brought the visitors level in the nineteenth minute when the impressive Henderson picked out the winger at the back post but the youngster fired wide when he had Watt waiting in the area for a simple tap in.    A minute later Wood almost punished their counterparts for their missed chances as a long ball over top beat both centre backs in Martin Angha and Elton Monteiro, and Buchanan tried a lob but it was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Martinez.

Riza was unlucky not to double his tally ten minutes before the break as Montgomery dug out a brilliant cross from a tight angle which came to the striker at the back post and his goal bound effort was superbly blocked by Angha who prevented his side from going two down.    The gunners ended the half the stronger, with the impressive Akpom going very close with an effort from close range which had Russell beaten but the Referee blew the half time whistle with the hosts again more than a match for their opponents.

The start of the second half brought about changes for both sides as Effiong replaced Buchanan for Boreham Wood and Arsenal made a triple Substitution with James Shea, Daniel Boateng and Jordan Wynter taking the place of Martinez, Monteiro and Rees.    Akpom picked up from where he left off in the first half, running at the home side’s defence and forcing a corner then Henderson went close again with another free kick which was brilliantly tipped over by Russell, as the opening minutes of the second half mirrored large parts of the first with the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of possession.    Ten minutes after the restart Arsenal Captain Angha was again called into action to produce another timely block to deny Effiong who had been put through as Wood grew into the second half and forced a succession of corners which they couldn’t capitalise on, though they were enjoying a decent spell of pressure making it very difficult for the youngsters.    Arsenal should have had an equaliser after sixty-seven minutes following superb work from Angha down the right hand side, crossing for Watt who put his free header wide.    The striker made amends for his miss, three minutes later confidently slotting away his spot kick to bring the visitors level when the gunners were awarded a penalty as Russell brought down Akpom.

Phillip Roberts and Anthony Jeffrey, introduced for the away side on the hour mark were instrumental in the team taking the lead as latter burst down the left hand side before crossing for the former whose cheeky back heel was blocked, but was then fouled as he tried to get to the rebound and Arsenal had another penalty.    Akpom stepped up this time and found the corner of the net to complete a five minute turnaround.

The gunners were dominant at this stage in the game and Olsson put gloss on the score line as he burst through the middle to lob Russell and put the game to bed with five minutes to go.    Wood rallied and tried to reduce the deficit but the second and third goals had knocked the stuffing out of the side and they were lucky not to concede a fourth in injury time as Jeffrey was unfortunate not to cap off his cameo display with a goal as his strike came back off the post and bounced to safety as the Referee brought the game to a close as a valiant Boreham Wood were edged out by a young Arsenal side, who proved to have that extra bit of class.

Team:    Russell, Nunn (Sub – Close 70 mins.), Jones, Noto, Garrard, Reynolds, Hutton (Sub – Hastings 70 mins.), Isaac, Riza (Sub – Scott-Morris 78 mins.), Buchanan (Sub – Effiong 45 mins.), Montgomery.

Subs (Not used):    Lewis, Doolan, Wallace, Ferrell.

Goals:    Boreham Wood:    Riza 13.            Arsenal X1:    Watt 72 (pen.), Akpom 78 (pen.), Olsson 85.

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