Blue Square Bet South
Salisbury City 2 Boreham Wood 2
by John Mead
A tough point earned on the road against the League leaders was enough for Ian Allinson’s men to climb up to second in what is turning out to be the tightest competition since the inception of the regionalised second tier of the Conference League nine years ago.
The meeting came with possibly too much pre-match baggage for so early in the Season. With City keen to preserve their unbeaten home status and seeing high flying Wood as a real threat, there was more than a hint of nerves and caution about most of the first half.
Wood made the journey to Wiltshire aboard the Arsenal First Team Coach as part of the Non League Day celebrations and to their credit decided against the temptation of parking the million pound state of the art vehicle in front of the City goal.
With the home side displaying their own brand of sportsmanship in front of a partisan crowd, Wood were up against more than a test of skill on occasions and unfortunately it had the desired result, with Charlie O’Loughlin ordered from the field of play after two very soft yellow cards, three shirt changes and a bloodied head courtesy of a flying City elbow. Yet O’Loughlin epitomises what Boreham Wood are about this Season and it certainly worried the opposition. Inih Effiong was another example of a player that instills fear in the opposition. Dragged back, shackled and fouled on occasions, he showed just why Wood are where they are in the table.
Neither side found the respective defences easy to break down in a first half of much whistle blowing, outside the box action and jockeying for position. Graeme Montgomery went close with a well struck free kick wide on the right, which evaded everybody taking a deflection behind for a corner. O’Loughin earned his first yellow card in bizarre fashion when he returned to the field of play in his second shirt of the afternoon at the liberty of the Assistant Referee, only for the man in the middle Mr. Hicks to stop play and castigate the action.
The opener came in first half injury time and O’Loughlin was the guilty party. He misjudged a right sided cross, allowing it to fall for Jamie White, whose initial low drive hit the base of the post coming back into play. The intervention of Benn Nunn and Chez Isaac who tried to clear was not sufficient to deter White who reacted well to smash home the opener from close range.
City had a couple of chances to increase their lead after the interval, with Callum Reynolds mopping up after Daniel Fitchett breezed past challenges from Nunn and O’Loughlin. Then White tried to take advantage of a collision between Reynolds, Russell and O’Loughlin whom by now had earned cult status from the baying home fans. Wood now came into their own and went close when Mauro Vilhete found himself onside and with just Willem Puddy in the City goal to beat. His initial shot on the turn was well saved, his second shot cleared off the line by defender Callum Hart.
Then came the equaliser after fifty-seven minutes. A quick throw in on the right from Vilhete found Effiong who chested down and released Cliff Akurang. He played out to Vilhete on the wing who produced a fine ball into the area which Akurang met guiding a superb header beyond Puddy.
David Hutton and Nunn then combined to set up Effiong who strayed just offside, with City’s Player / Manager Darrell Clarke ordering Robert Matthews permanently into attack from his original centre half position.
It was however another defensive howler that allowed the home side back in front. Reynolds let the ball run under his foot and White was off like a flash breaking to finish with a low shot past Russell, his ninth of the Season making him the League’s leading scorer. To Wood’s immense credit they took just five minutes to respond. Montgomery now venturing out from his defensive covering role broke through the middle playing out to Hutton on the left. He cut inside and finished well hitting his low drive beyond Puddy into the bottom right hand corner of the net. O’Loughlin was then ordered off the field for dissent, with Omer Riza replacing Effiong shortly after. It was the ten men of Wood who finished the stronger side to move up one place in the table.
In summary Ian Allinson commented, “I thought Charlie was very unfortunate with the decisions that went against him today. Both he and Callum were at fault for the goals but after defending so superbly so far this Season it was out of character. I thought we were the better side at 1 – 1 and again at 2 – 2 and the likelier to go on and win it, but of course the sending off did not help that cause. Salisbury City showed today that they are a very difficult team to beat. They play a system that suits them very well and I would anticipate they will be right up there all Season challenging.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Vilhete, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Hutton (Sub – Morgan 90+3 mins.), Isaac, Akurang, Effiong (Sub – Riza 81 mins.), Montgomery.
Subs (Not used): Scott-Morris, Close, Jefford.
Bookings: O’Loughlin (sent off 84 mins.), Effiong, Nunn.
Goals: Salisbury City: White 45, 71. Boreham Wood: Akurang 57, Hutton 76.
Man of the Match: David Hutton.