22 July 2016

Kudus to Wood

Tuesday July 19th 2016
Pre-season friendly
Boreham Wood 1-0 Luton Town

Meadow Park
LEAGUE TWO Luton Town made the short journey to Boreham Wood for what has become another annual event in Meadow Park's pre-season calendar.

On the UK's hottest day of the year so far, the still powerful sun was beaming straight at the main stand at kick-off.  It was strong enough to force a few regulars - including me - to migrate to the white seats of the West Stand on the opposite side for the first half.

Wood's trialist striker Kudus Oyenuga, who spent last season at Hartlepool United, staked his case for a contract offer by scoring the only goal of the game midway through the first half.  With Shaun Jeffers and Angelo Balanta also getting game time in attack later, manager Luke Garrard seems to have options on the table in the strikers department.  Certainly that was Wood's weak spot last season, with only 44 goals scored in 46 National League games in 2015/16.

My full review of the evening in the sun is here...

18 July 2016

Community Spirit

Saturday July 16th 2016
Pre-season friendly
Boreham Wood 3-0 Arsenal XI

Meadow Park

FOR only the second time in the long history of this annual pre-season fixture, Boreham Wood recorded a win against the illustrious Gunners.

In truth, it was far from an Arsenal first team squad on duty at Meadow Park on Saturday.  Steve Gatting led a mixture of under-18 and under-21 players, on what was Boreham Wood's Community Day.

My review of proceedings was first published on realfootytalk.com...

It was billed as Community Day at Meadow Park.  Boreham Wood FC’s Community Department had teamed up with Arsenal Soccer Schools to host free football coaching sessions for 5-12 year-olds on the astro-turf training pitches prior to this afternoon’s enticing game against an Arsenal XI.
The visit of Arsenal has been a highlight in Boreham Wood’s pre-season calendar for many years.  With Meadow Park also serving as the home ground for the Gunners’ Academy and Ladies teams, and with Arsenal’s training headquarters located in nearby London Colney, there are strong links between the two clubs.  This summer Wood chairman Danny Hunter also secured a revamped two-year extension to their ongoing agreement which is, according to Hunter’s programme notes, less “loaded in Arsenal’s favour”.
Not so long ago, the Gunners would bring a first team squad to Meadow Park for this fixture, drawing a sell-out crowd through the turnstiles.  Nowadays though, with Premier League clubs increasingly focused on tapping into overseas markets and heading around the globe for pre-season tours, it’s usually a young and less familiar Arsenal line-up on display.
As advertised, Gunners’ U21 head coach Steve Gatting took charge of a mixture of under-18 and under-21 players this afternoon.    Arsenal-supporting families with young children, doubtless having come directly from the coaching sessions, seemed to dominate the main stand as the two teams took to the field on a warm afternoon.
Wood manager Luke Garrard, having already rested one full-back in Ben Nunn, was forced to go without another when Danny Woodards had to pull out after the pre-match warm-up.  Ricky Shakes slotted into an unfamiliar right-back role, with Joe Devera switching to the left.  Trialist goalkeeper Sam Beasant continued between the posts, having played the second half of Monday night’s game against Peterborough United.
Up front, Daniel Uchechi, who signed a contract in the past week, was partnered by trialist Kudus Oyenuga, previously with Hartlepool United.
Wood were scarcely threatened by the young Gunners in the early stages, and took the lead on 10 minutes.  Uchechi was the provider, floating a cross from the inside left channel towards the unmarked Joe Devera at the back post, from where the full-back’s firm header was too powerful for keeper Joao Virgina.
Beasant reacted smartly midway through the first-half when he dived low to gather Savvas Mourgos’ snap shot from the edge of the box.
And the Wood keeper did even better four minutes before the break, getting down to his right to parry Eddie Nketiah’s angled shot after a ricochet had left the strike with a clear run into the penalty area.
Two more trialists appeared for Wood immediately after half-time, as Shaun Jeffers and Kadell Daniels were introduced in place of Oyenuga and Bruno Andrade.
The second half continued with little goalmouth action.  Then just before the hour-mark, it was Daniels who curled a 25-yard free-kick past the Gunners’ wall, Virgina diving low to gather the ball by his right-hand post.
At the other end, Beasant again came to Wood’s rescue, expertly parrying Donyell Malon’s rising shot out for a corner after the Arsenal number 10 had found himself with space inside the box.
Gunners’ substitute Nathan Tella also failed to get past Wood’s number 1 with eight minutes remaining, Beasant covering his near post well to concede another corner, after a wayward cross-field ball from Josh Coldicott-Stevens had gifted the visitors possession.
But Wood made the game safe with two minutes remaining, as Jeffers latched onto Kenny Davis’ chip over the Arsenal defence and slotted past Virgina, prompting a mass exodus of disappointed Gunners fans from the main stand.
There was still time for Wood to add a third too.  In added time, hesitancy at the back from the young Arsenal defence ended with Virgina upending Jeffers to concede a penalty.  Davis sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot to complete an impressive win for Luke Garrard’s team.
Meadow Park’s busy pre-season continues on Tuesday night with the visit of League Two Luton Town, another annual fixture which should attract substantial visiting support.
Luke Garrard still has work to do as he builds his squad for Wood’s second season in the National League.  Questions remain about who will join Uchechi in the strikers department, especially now that the impressive trialist Morgan Ferrier looks set to take up an alternative offer from Peterborough United.  Garrard is also still to decide who will succeed the departed James Russell in goal, with only one of either Sam Beasant or Grant Smith likely to be offered a deal.
For today though, Community Day was Boreham Wood’s day.
BOREHAM WOOD: Beasant, Devera, Shakes, Ricketts, Stephens, Paine, Moke (Coldicott-Steven 76), Clifford (Goodliffe 85), Oyenuga (Jeffers HT), Uchechi (Davis 63), Andrade (Daniels HT).  Subs not used: Smith.
ARSENAL XI: Virgina, Eyoma (Tella 76), Pileas, Kamara, Da Graca, Pleguezlo, Mourgos (Osei-Tutl 76), Bennacer, Nketiah (Dragomir 65), Malon, De Silva (Robinson 63).  Subs not used: Bola, Smith-Rowe.
REFEREE: Mr M Baunassisi

12 July 2016

Wood Warming Up

Monday July 11th 2016
Pre-season friendly
Boreham Wood 0-1 Peterborough United

Meadow Park

A warm summer evening, 14 substitutions at half-time and 40 different players eventually getting minutes on the pitch - sounds very pre-season.
A good contest though, and glad to see Ryan Tafazolli lining up for his new club Peterborough United after leaving Mansfield Town at the end of last season...

Report originally published on realfootytalk.com...

A PENALTY early in the second half was enough to decide this encounter in favour of the visitors on a warm and sunny evening at Meadow Park.  But Boreham Wood, playing their third pre-season game in four days after already hosting Championship sides Brentford and Reading, can take heart from an encouraging performance against League One opposition.
Trialist goalkeeper Grant Smith started in goal for Wood, behind a familiar back four of Ben Nunn, Dave Stephens, Joe Devera and Danny Woodards.  Close-season signings Mark Ricketts and Kenny Davis lined up in midfield, with Adriano Moke and Bruno Andrade operating on the flanks.  In attack, Ricky Shakes partnered young trialist Morgan Ferrier
Peterborough boss Grant McCann planned in advance to field a different XI in each half this evening.  There was no return to Meadow Park for Posh striker Lee Angol though, Wood’s top scorer in the promotion season of 2014/15 having suffered a serious ankle injury on Saturday.
Early possession for the visitors, attacking the Brook Road end, saw Joe Taylor flash a shot just wide of Smith’s right hand post, before a Paul Taylor cross deflected off the head of Joe Devera and narrowly past the upright for a corner.
Adriano Moke was punished with a yellow card – a rarity in a friendly – for a wild tackle on Andrew Hughes, as Wood’s summer signing from Wrexham tried to retrieve possession just in front of the home technical area.
In further pressure from Posh, Aaron Williams raced onto a through ball from Paul Taylor, but keeper Smith was out quickly to gather the ball at the striker’s feet.  Chris Forrester then skillfully beat two defenders near the goalline, but saw his low cross from the left blocked.
Against the run of play, Wood came close seven minutes before the break, Bruno Andrade firing past Ben Alnwick’s left upright after created space for a shot on the edge of the penalty area.
Posh created another good chance immediately before the interval, but full-back Hayden White sent a tame effort straight at Smith after teeing up an angled shot from just inside the 18-yard box.
Sam Beasant, making his second appearance for Wood in three days, took over in goal for the second half, with Matt Paine and Conor Clifford replacing Ricketts and Moke.  As intended, Peterborough sent out an entirely different 11 players for the second 45 minutes.
The League One visitors were ahead within four minutes of the restart.  A break down the inside right ended with Benn Nunn bringing down Brad Inman inside the box, the referee pointing immediately to the penalty spot.  Marcus Maddison comfortably beat Beasant, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Joe Gormley should have doubled Posh’s lead 10 minutes later, but dragged his shot wide of Beasant’s right hand post after latching onto Maddison’s through ball.
Maddison might have been on the scoresheet again too, when his run towards the edge of the Wood penalty area ended with a chip onto the roof of the net.
Wood’s new recruit from Woking, Bruno Andrade, whose pearler had lit up Friday night’s game against Brenford, was unable to deliver a repeat, as he curled a free-kick over the Posh wall into the arms of keeper Dion Curtis-Henry.
Luke Garrard made two further changes to his line-up after the hour mark, sending on Daniel Uchechi and Kadell Daniels in place of Davis and Andrade.
Uchechi almost made a quick impact, seeing his lob clip the upright after collecting a lay-off from Ferrier.
Wood were also unlucky not to draw level 12 minutes from time, as Curtis-Henry superbly tipped Shakes’ fierce drive out for corner.  In the scramble which followed the flag-kick, the ball came back off the post, before Kyle Roberts’ shot was blocked in a crowded penalty area.
Ben Goodliffe replaced Danny Woodards in Wood’s final change of the evening, taking the total number of players on duty across two sides tonight to 40.
Luke Garrard’s team were now in the ascendancy, with Shakes seeing a shot blocked, and Roberts’ weaving run ending with Wood’s young substitute being crowded out near the byline.
Conor Clifford fired a long-range free-kick well over the bar in the final act of a what had been a good contest.
Wood’s typically busy pre-season programme continues this Saturday, when a young Arsenal XI comes to Meadow Park as part of a Community Day.  That will be followed by the visit of League Two Luton Town next Tuesday evening.
BOREHAM WOOD: Smith (Beasant HT), Nunn, Woodards (Goodliffe 79), Ricketts (Clifford HT), Stephens, Devera, Moke (Paine HT), Davis (Uchechi 65), Ferrier (Roberts 75), Shakes, Andrade (Daniel 65).
PETERBOROUGH UNITED (1st half): Alnwick, White, Hughes, Da Silva Lopes, Tafazolli, Almeida Santos, J Taylor, Forrester, Nichols, P Taylor, Williams.
(2nd half): Curtis-Henry, Beautyman, Baldwin, Bostwick, Freestone, Nabi, Chettle, Inman, Maddison; Gormley, Coulthirst.
Referee: Mr E Kye