Boreham Wood enjoyed a winning return to the National League season with victory over Dagenham & Redbridge at Meadow Park.  

A familiar face in Angelo Balanta netted the Wood’s winner, with a 52nd minute strike.

Former academy defender Ben Goodliffe – on loan at the Daggers – was sent off late on for Peter Taylor’s side.

The Wood lined up in their usual 3-5-2 formation, with Bradley Ash and Ricky Shakes upfront and Balanta in behind.

There was a cagey start to the match, although the Wood arguably edged the opening exchanges.

Ash won a free-kick in a dangerous area in the opening minutes, but Murtagh’s cross was nodded just above the head of David Stephens.

The closest the two teams came to an opening goal in the first 15 minutes was through Chike Kandi, but the striker had timed his run poorly and was called back for offside.

Danny Woodards reacted by playing the ball into Shakes, who looked to have beaten Elliot Justham to it, but the ‘keeper managed to pluck it from his feet.

A cross from Femi Ilesanmi from deep was then heading for Shakes again, but Justham managed to beat him to it once more.

Mark Ricketts broke for the Wood and freed Shakes on the right. The forward charged past Liam Gordon, but his cross was hooked clear by Harry Phipps. Champion leapt highest at the resulting corner, but sent his header over.

A teasing cross from Keiran Murtagh on the right would skim the head of Ash, who was unable to get enough onto it.

Ilesanmi thought he had opened the scoring with a stunning strike, but his thunderous effort from 25-yards went inches wide of the left post.

Luke Garrard had challenged his side at half time to go on the offensive and it showed, with Ash getting in behind Gordon, but his ball across the box was blocked out by Goodliffe.

The Wood continued on the attack, earning four corners in just seven minutes of second half play.

They continued to look likely to open the scoring and some lovely play on the edge of the area by Murtagh and Balanta fed the former, but his curled shot was saved superbly by Justham.

The home side would get the goal their play deserved shortly after, following another corner. Woodards recycled Murtagh’s set piece down the right to Shakes, whose cross was cutely flicked past Justham by Balanta.

Confidence was flowing through Boreham Wood and Ash’s cross was knocked back to Woodards by Ilesanmi, but he fired wide with a powerful shot.

David Stephens towered over his marker at a corner, but could only head over the crossbar.

Will Wright brought down a freekick and thumped it at Ryan Huddart, who pulled off an excellent save.

Lamar Reynolds had been brought on by Dagenham & Redbridge and made an instant impact to their attacking play. A long-range effort from the forward forced another impressive save from Huddart.

Reynolds would continue to impress and countered for the Daggers, but this time his strike was blocked clear by Tom Champion.

Huddart showed his stature in the penalty area and tipped Gordon’s cross over the head of Elliot Romain.

The Daggers had begun to take the attacking impetus, however, a late red card for Goodliffe would help the Wood over the finish line, following a nasty challenge on Shakes, from the youngster.

The Wood: Huddart, Woodards, Ilesanmi, Ricketts ©, Parry, Stephens, Shakes, Champion, Murtagh, Ash (Thomas 65’), Balanta

Subs not used: Fyfield, Jeffers, Smith, Clifford 

Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Gordon, Robinson ©, Donovan, Kandi, Romain, Goodliffe, Phipps (Blanchfield 68’), Wright, Hoyte, Harfield (Reynolds 61’)

Subs not used: Davey, Moore, Bonds

Attendance: 833

Goal: Balanta 52’

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