29 November 2016

Match preview: Boreham Wood v Braintree Town

BOREHAM WOOD target their fifth consecutive home win in the National League when Braintree Town come to Meadow Park tonight.

Wood's recent strong home record contrasts with a recent slump in away form.  Three defeats in a row at Lincoln, Bromley and Guiseley mark a surprising downturn after a previously fine run had seen Luke Garrard's team unbeaten on their travels since April.

Braintree Town have had a tough season so far, following the departure in the summer of manager Danny Cowley.  The former Concord Rangers boss left the club for Lincoln City, having guided the Iron to the play-offs in what turned out to be his one and only season in charge.

Hakan Hayrettin, who played for Boreham Wood in the 1999/00 season, was appointed to replace Cowley in the close season.  One of the challenges he has faced is compensating for the loss of key players such as Matt Paine and Kenny Davis, both of whom opted to join Boreham Wood shortly after the end of last season.

The Iron currently occupy 20th place in the table, above the relegation zone only on goal difference.  However, they did pick up three points away from home last Saturday, winning an amazing game at Southport 5-4, having been 3-1 down at one stage before coming back to lead 4-3 by half-time.

With Wood currently sitting 7th in the table, another home win tonight is needed to keep Luke Garrard's team on the fringes of the National League play-off places.

Boreham Wood v Braintree Town
Vanarama National League
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 5AL
Tuesday 29th November 2016
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

24 November 2016

Higher and Higher

Tuesday 22nd November 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 1-0 Sutton United
Meadow Park

Attendance: 371
BOREHAM WOOD just keep on delivering.

Tuesday night's hard-fought win against Sutton United - the second home win in four days - lifted Wood to seventh place in the National League.

It's a result which leaves Luke Garrard's team just five points outside the play-off zone.  Having recorded six home wins this season, Wood have already surpassed their total for the whole of the 2015/16 campaign.

In only their second season in the top tier of non-league football, Wood look to be finding their feet at this level, following last term's long battle against relegation.

The attacking flair of Bruno Andrade, Anthony Jeffrey and Angelo Balanta was much in evidence again against Sutton, as Wood stamped their authority on the game as the first half progressed.  It was Jeffrey who scored what would be the only goal of the game midway through the opening 45 minutes, firing low past Ross Worner after collecting Andrade's cross and cutting inside a defender.

With Sutton coming more into the game after the break, and threatening to snatch a point with a late onslaught, the home defence again held firm.  Dave Stephens, who has only just returned to the side after breaking a metatarsal on the opening day of the season, delivered a particularly assured performance to help preserve his team's narrow lead.

Following Tuesday night's matches, Wood have the joint best defensive record in the National League alongside Tranmere Rovers, with only 15 goals conceded in 21 games.

Yet the progress being made on the pitch continues to go mostly unnoticed in the expanding conurbation of Elstree & Borehamwood.  Crowds of just 314 and 371 attended the two home games this week, as Wood duel with newly-promoted North Ferriby United for the dubious title of the National League's worst supported team.

Low attendances have been a constant source of frustration for Chairman Danny Hunter for several years, with the club continually unable to attract crowds in line with the level the team has risen to.

Another annoyance for the club and its loyal fanbase has been the diminishing coverage by the local press.  This week Boreham Wood FC announced it was severing ties with the Borehamwood & Elstree Times, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the paper's inability to cover the club's matches and news.  It's a move which gives the impression that those running the club feel an ever greater need to go it alone, raising standards every year, while continuing to be largely overlooked by the local population and media.

But the club continues to progress.  A young manager is constantly learning; his team are looking increasingly comfortable in the National League.  Away from the first team, the club's highly-rated academy continues to thrive.  Off the pitch, sponsorship and advertising revenues continue to grow.

Luke Garrard and the players now focus on Saturday's trip to bottom-of-the-table Guiseley, before struggling Braintree Town visit Meadow Park next Tuesday evening.

My match report from the Sutton United game is here.

21 November 2016

Match preview: Boreham Wood v Sutton United

TUESDAY evening brings the second home game in four days for Boreham Wood when Sutton United are the visitors to Meadow Park.

Last season's National League South champions are back in the top flight of non-league football after a 16-year absence.  An inconsistent start to the current campaign sees Sutton occupying 13th place in the table, five places and seven points below Wood.

The Us' run of four consecutive draws was ended on Saturday by a 2-1 defeat at North Ferriby United.  Their last league win was a 4-1 victory against Woking back on 8th October.

Boreham Wood's 2-0 success against Southport last Saturday was the fifth home win of the season for Luke Garrard's team, equalling their total number of home wins for the whole of last season.

That substantial improvement in home form has helped Wood, relegation candidates last term, climb to eighth place in the table after 20 games, five points behind the play-off places at this stage.

But Saturday's game was watched by Meadow Park's smallest crowd of the season, with just 314 fans in attendance.

In his programme notes, Wood chairman Danny Hunter had already warned that the continued lack of support from the town will "destroy the momentum we've built", as the club tries to hold its own against clubs with bigger fanbases and budgets.

It's a problem which has plagued the club during its rise from the lower end of the Ryman Premier League, a promotion to the Conference South in 2010, and four seasons of steady improvement before a further promotion to the National League in 2015.

Despite being located in an expanding town with a population of well over 30 000, crowds at Meadow Park have never risen substantially, while the team's fortunes on the pitch have improved and the facilities at the ground expanded.

Nevertheless. Wood's loyal fanbase of around 300 will be anticpating a sixth home win of the season on Tuesday evening.

Boreham Wood v Sutton United
Vanarama National League
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 5AL
Tuesday 22nd November 2016
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT