Boreham Wood 1 Luton Town 0
by John Mead
Put into perspective this was a commendable win given the sweltering thirty degree plus temperature. For the second time in just three days Ian Allinson’s part timers were forced to play a full time Squad of twenty-two players, an energy sapping task even in December.
John Still pitched his perceived second string Squad players against Wood in the opening forty-five minutes, resting his big guns for the second half. It was in that first period that Wood played as a unit from back to front. The visitors were understandably the stronger outfit for the last ten minutes of a boiling first half, before a total change in personnel for the second half allowed Wood to show what a superb defensive outfit they are.
Luke Garrard slotted into a back four due to the non availability of Callum Reynolds, with Mark Bentley looking comfortable in the holding role. Mario Noto shored up the midfield, allowing Donovan Simmonds and Liam Enver-Marum to predate the Town defence.
It was a ploy that paid dividends after five minutes. Graeme Montgomery swung over a fine cross from the left just outside the penalty area looking for Simmonds. He drifted away from his marker to head home between Mark Tyler and his left hand post.
It was a bright start from Wood and Greg Morgan received a superb ball from Simmonds wide on the left before playing the new signing through on goal who forced a low save from Tyler. Andy Parry headed over for The Hatters from a Dave Martin free kick before Enver-Marum forced a low save from the stalwart Town shot stopper. It took Town thirty-five minutes to test James Russell when Jim Stevenson’s first time ball fed Mark Cullen. Russell produced an excellent block to deny the signing from Hull City. Cullen then hit the crossbar from a ball into danger out on the left from JJ O’Donnell, which rebounded kindly for Stevenson whose goal bound blast fortunately came off the head of Garrard to safety.
The second half saw the introduction of Calum Willock in place of Ben Nunn with Bentley slotting into defence. The pattern of play was now more about Wood keeping out a hungry and fresh first choice Town eleven.
Shaun Walley hit an effort over the bar after some fine defensive work from Garrard as the Wood defence went into overdrive. Andre Grey was thwarted by a brilliant reaction save from Russell from just eight yards out. Town attacked patiently with some fine short passing moves, yet the resilience of the Wood defence was commendable. Whalley shaped an effort just over the crossbar from the edge of the area, before Wood mounted their first real attack of the half after sixty-five minutes.
Substitute Charlie Moone played Montgomery through down the middle of the park, his shot taking a deflection before being gathered by Elliot Justham in the Town goal.
Solomon Taiwo then hit a goal bound curling free kick which Russell repelled behind for a corner with a two handed save. Russell was called upon more frequently as John Still took the liberty of refreshing his eleven in the searing heat. He saved low from a Guttridge effort before some stoic defensive play from Noto broke up another threatening move.
Willock had a shot cleared by Ronnie Henry with nine minutes remaining, which was to be the last time the Town defence was breached. The rest of the game belonged to Russell who smothered a Henry cross before Whalley’s bullet effort hit the post. The rebound was rifled goal bound by Guttridge who found the Wood shot stopper in impeccable form parrying the point blank effort low on the ground. Guttridge then produced the last attempt on goal which the Wood ‘keeper saved low to give his side confidence going on to the visit of the Arsenal “Under 21” side in seven days time.
In summary Ian Allinson observed, “We rode our luck at times in the second half, but the performance in the first half was very pleasing from my side. We showed a great resilience with players putting their bodies on the line. Obviously our quest is to improve in front of goal this Season and our Pre- Season opener from Donovan was a very well taken effort.”
Team: Russell, Nunn (Sub – Willock 45 mins.), Jones, Noto, O’Loughlin, Garrard, Morgan (Sub – Sterling-Parker 75 mins.), Bentley, Enver-Marum (Sub – Moone 57 mins.), Simmonds (Sub – Brown 72 mins.), Montgomery.
Goal: Boreham Wood: Simmonds 5.