24 April 2016

Closer to the Cherished Goal

Saturday 23rd April 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 1-0 Guiseley
Meadow Park
Attendance: 601 (away support 113)
BOREHAM WOOD edged closer to safety with a single-goal win against fellow-strugglers Guiseley on an afternoon of high tension at Meadow Park.
Delano Sam-Yorke’s strike, midway through the first half, was enough to give Wood three critical points, lifting them above today’s opponents in the table, and keeping survival in their own hands going into next Saturday’s final round of games .
Wood started their final home game of their debut season at this level two points behind Guiseley and above FC Halifax Town on goal difference.  Luke Garrard’s team knew that a win today in front of a larger than usual Meadow Park crowd, coupled with defeat for Halifax at second-placed Forest Green Rovers, would effectively ensure safety from relegation with a game to spare, on account of a vastly superior goal difference.
With Danny Woodards missing through injury, Wood skipper Callum Reynolds moved across to the left-back position, with Joe Devera partnering Scott Doe in the centre of defence.  Harry White and Delano Sam-Yorke formed the strike partnership in a 4-4-2 formation.
Wood enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages, but faced a scare in the fourth minute as Oli Johnson weaved his way past Ben Nunn into the penalty area, before being unable to find a teammate with his pull-back into the centre.
Home fans’ hearts were in their mouths again when Scott Doe’s back-pass to James Russell looked dangerously short, as the Wood keeper raced out of his goal to clear any danger from the onrushing Guiseley striker.
At the other end, Sam-Yorke’s persistence eventually saw him get in a shot from just inside the penalty area, Lions’ keeper Steven Drench getting down smartly to save.
But Sam-Yorke would get his reward in the 23rd minute.  Bursting into the 18-yard box and powering his way past two defenders, the Wood striker found enough space to blast home from 10 yards, giving Wood a crucial lead and lifting some of the tension around the ground.
A better spell of possession for the visitors followed.  But Wood, with the experienced centre-back pairing of Doe and Devera holding firm, were not being seriously threatened at this stage.
A swift break out of defence from Wood in the 39th minute saw Sam-Yorke find space down the left, before laying the ball inside to Howell, who in turn found Conor Clifford racing forward from the inside right channel.  Clifford, the hero at Aldershot seven days ago with his late winner, this time failed to trouble the keeper, sending his shot comfortably wide.
In the final minute of a first half in which the visitors had created little, Hatfield was frustrated to see his cross from the right-hand edge of the penalty area deflected harmlessly in the hands of Russell.
But Guiseley, having appeared back on the pitch several minutes ahead of Wood before the start of the second half, immediately looked a more threatening outfit after the restart.
Within 90 seconds of play resuming, Doe had to be alert to snuff out a threat from Anthony Dudley in the penalty area, conceding a corner with a hooked clearance.
It was from that corner that the unlucky Rob Atkinson saw his header crash down off Russell’s crossbar, the loose ball then being blasted high over for a goal-kick.
Doe was in action again when his attempted clearance from midway inside his own half was charged down by Adam Boyes, leaving Guiseley’s number 9 briefly through on goal, until Wood’s centre-back quickly recovered to get in a crucial tackle.
Against the run of play, Wood came close to doubling their lead just before the hour-mark.  Latching on to Clifford’s through ball, Sam-Yorke raced forward into the penalty area, and was unlucky to see his rising shot clip Drench’s left-hand post, before rebounding to safety.
More drama at the other end just moments later, as the dangerous Johnson found space in the box for shot which Russell got down smartly to block.
With the game really opening up, Wood’s keeper came to the rescue again within three minutes, brilliantly tipping over Atkinson’s fierce rising shot after Boyes’ knock down on the edge of the penalty area.
Dudley then wasted a golden chance to bring the visitors level, blasting the ball well over after finding himself in plenty of space inside the Wood box, much to the agony of the Guiseley management on the touchline.
With Wood hanging on to their slender lead, Junior Morias, on as a 66th-minute substitute for Luke Howell, won the ball in a tussle 30 yards from goal and accelerated into the penalty area.  But, under pressure from a defender, the popular Wood striker could only send his attempted shot high and wide.
The tension around the ground rose further, as news filtered through that Halifax had taken the lead at Forest Green, something which was of no help to either side on the Meadow Park pitch.
With seven minutes of the 90 remaining, Russell again reacted smartly to parry Boyes’ 20-yard shot past his left-hand post, and was at his best once more to gather the inswinging corner under pressure.
Four minutes of stoppage time saw Wood hold firm as Guiseley, about to drop into the bottom four, looked in vain for a last-gasp breakthrough.  The final whistle brought tangible relief for the home fans.
Wood now go to bottom-of-the-table Welling United next Saturday knowing that, should Halifax and Guiseley both win at home, even a draw would not be enough to keep them in the National League’s top tier.
But, having just achieved back-to-back wins for the first time in this testing season, Luke Garrard’s team have their fate in their own hands, and the momentum they need.

BOREHAM WOOD: Russell, Nunn, Doe, Reynolds, Shakes, Howell (Morias 66), Sam-Yorke, C Clifford, H White, Kamdjo, Devera.  Subs not used: Cox, Lucas, B Clifford, Connors.
GUISELEY: Drench, Toulson (Norburn 74), Parker, Lowe, Lawlor, Boyes, Rothery, Hatfield, Johnson (Boshell 80), R Atkinson, Dudley (Craddock 78).  Subs not used: Lockwood, D Atkinson.
REFEREE: Mr D Treleaven
ATTENDANCE: 601 (away support 113)

22 April 2016

Match Preview: Boreham Wood v Guiseley

WITH two games of their debut season in the National League remaining, Boreham Wood have the chance to secure another year at this level when fellow-strugglers Guiseley come to Meadow Park tomorrow.

Luke Garrard's team go into their final home fixture of the season knowing that a win, coupled with defeat for FC Halifax Town at second-placed Forest Green Rovers, will put Wood effectively safe, on account of their vastly superior goal difference.

To add spice to tomorrow's game, Guiseley will travel south to Meadow Park sitting just two places above Wood, knowing that whilst a win would end their relegation worries, defeat would leave them still needing at least a draw on the final day of the season to secure survival.  

Like Wood, Guiseley were promoted from regional football at the end of last season.  Having suffered play-off disappointment at the end of four consecutive campaigns, the West Yorkshire outfit made it fifth time lucky when coming back from 2-0 down to beat Chorley 3-2 in a dramatic Conference North play-off final.

It was on the same day, in the Conference South final, that Wood defeated Whitehawk 2-1 after extra-time in front of a bumper Meadow Park crowd to join Guiseley in non-league football's top tier for the first time.

The visitors are likely to be without striker Emile Sinclair, on loan from York City, due to injury tomorrow.  But manager Mark Bower does have significant Football League experience in his squad, including former Leeds United left-back Ben Parker and defender Rob Atkinson, once of Barnsley and Accrington Stanley.

In a rallying cry to the town of Borehamwood, Luke Garrard has described Saturday's game as much bigger than last May's play-off final, and sees survival at this level as "by far a greater achievement" than winning promotion to it.

Wood's home record of four wins and 11 defeats in 22 games may not bode well, but the club's small yet loyal fanbase will be willing their team towards safety tomorrow.

Boreham Wood v Guiseley

Vanarama National League
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 5AL
Saturday 23rd April 2016
Kick-off: 15:00 BST

10 April 2016

As You Were

Saturday 9th April 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 0-2 Southport
Meadow Park
Attendance: 434
IT was a case of 'as you were' at Meadow Park, as Boreham Wood fell tamely to a 2-0 defeat against Southport.

After the high of Easter Monday's overdue home win against Dover Athletic, Wood sadly reverted to the form which has plagued them on their own ground for most of the season.

An early goal conceded, a flat atmosphere in the sparsely populated Meadow Park - an all too familiar picture during a tough first season at this level for Wood.

Just three league games remain to be played - away to mid-table Aldershot Town, at home to fellow strugglers Guiseley, and at the doomed Welling United.  Luke Garrard's team will surely need at least two wins from somewhere to avoid a swift return to Step 2.

But with results elsewhere going in Wood's favour today, survival is still within reach.

Match report here.