Boreham Stiff

Match report by ALREET

Boreham Wood 0 Pools 0  (National League)
Saturday November 11th 2017
Meadow Park

I was looking forward to this game as, in the absence of Barnet, it has now become my local venue. I continue to be confused by the fact that Borehamwood is the home of Boreham Wood FC which, I believe, was its original spelling. Things were much simpler when we referred to the place as Boreham Stiff.

Although I've driven past the ground several times in the past, I took the bus/es this time and lost my way slightly on one of the roundabouts (taking the 'gypsies', I was to discover that the bus I had just left at Tesco, thinking that I had gone past my stop, actually stops right outside the bloody ground!). I asked several people if they knew the location of the ground but was quite amazed when every one of them said, "Sorry. I don't live round here".

I decided to ask the last couple of girls, "I'm not being nosey but everyone has said the same thing - where are you going?" and they replied, "We're off to see Strictly” something or other. I then spotted a chap standing with his young son at a bus stop so asked about the ground and, fortunately, he told me that I had taken the wrong exit off the roundabout. Five minutes later, I was waltzling through the car park and on my way to the visitor’s entrance.

A couple of Poolies followed me and asked one of the stewards if they could get a drink in the bar only to be informed that they couldn’t and would have to return to Wetherspoons on the roundabout. Obviously none too impressed with this, it drew the response, “I don’t like their beer”. The ground itself is small but neat with stands on both sides and two open ends. We were allocated the end with the entrance and half of the adjoining seats. Having a stroll around the ground it dawned on me that the even, lush playing surface had an immaculate edge to it and is, in fact, artificial.

Boreham Wood were early into their stride and Loach was forced to punch away a high cross. Featherstone committed a foul on the halfway line but the long free kick went straight out for a goal kick. A shot from distance forced Loach to push the ball away before he cleared the danger. Smith, their No.2, sped down our left flank before delivering a hard, low cross across our area but we were lucky that it was a whisker away from being converted. Andrade, their lively No.11, was causing us problems with his footwork and direct running wide and through our defence. He tried his luck again but Loach collected his shot.
"We obviously need to start scoring a few goals if we are to make progress against teams in this very ordinary league."

We conceded a free kick on the halfway line which Smith took in his stride as he raced forward and his pass was met by their No.23 whose shot was deflected for a corner. Oates, who had been working hard, made three great tackles in quick succession. He then received the ball wide on the left of the opposition’s half, cut inside his man and got a shot away that was our first meaningful effort of the afternoon.

Adams made a typical charge upfield but his pass went behind Oates. Richardson bundled his man over and received a raspberry from the ref for his efforts. Deverdics set up an attack with a neat pass but the move was ended when he got flattened on the edge of their area. The kick was taken by Franks but his effort didn’t even clear their wall. We were beginning to have a say in matters and Franks saw a shot blocked. Rodney put in a good run down their right but the ball was scrambled away for a throw in.

Play switched ends and Loach saved a shot from the edge of our area. Andrade made another tricky run down our left but the final ball drifted just wide of our upright. Rodney on a run found Adams whose fierce shot was saved by the keeper before the ref decided that it was time for a cuppa. Due to the artificial pitch, it was interesting to see that during the break, there were no long forks on view but a couple of very short versions and, beguilingly, chaps wandering around with black buckets into which they were dropping items of I know not what as they were minuscule and couldn’t be identified. Or was it all a con and they were just pretending to pick things up?

The second half had hardly got under way when a ball was played into our area and Harrison followed his man who was running wide before bundling him over and the ref pointed to the spot. Andrade stepped up to take the kick but his effort was tame in the extreme and Loach made the save to keep us in the game. The Pools crowd who had been vociferous until that point immediately increased the volume at the let off; we do get some tremendous support at these games. Undaunted, another long ball was played into our box but we were alert to it and cleared it to safety.

We then had another escape after a free kick was headed across our goal and drilled home by their stocky No.10 but the ref had already spotted an infringement and blown for a foul. We had another slice of luck when a shot hit one of his own players before we hoofed it clear. Andrade latched onto a through ball and skimmed past Laing but Loach saved his first attempt and he put the rebound into the side netting.

Deverdics left the field at this point and Adeloye came on in his place. We conceded a corner on our right but the resulting header was wide of the target. Cassidy, who had replaced the willing Oates, received the ball wide on our left before neatly turning his man and played a low ball across the six yard box where the onrushing Rodney narrowly failed to connect with it. Adeloye showed a neat turn of pace with a mazey run inside from the left touchline which took him past three or four players. Andrade dispossessed Richardson on our right flank but Loach managed to divert his shot to safety with his boot and that was that.

Yet another game where I thought we rode our luck and were fortunate that Boreham Wood had left their shooting boots at home. That and the obligatory commendable performance from Loach ensured that Pools made the long journey home with a point under their belts. We were generally composed in defence but are still guilty of giving the ball away in dangerous positions. Harrison and Laing won several important headers and the former made a vital block late in the game to balance conceding the penalty.

Richardson continues to make progress while Adams poses a threat whenever he decides to head upfield. I have been a fan of this aspect of his game but he does seem to stand off his man at times when defending. Featherstone lost the ball a few times which is unusual for him. George is growing into his position in midfield while Deverdics flitted in and out of the game with some deft touches.

Oates ran his socks off once again. As in the Torquay match where he looked knackered, taking a glug at every opportunity, this appears to be his role - being replaced with a fresh pair of legs. Rodney was energetic as usual, making some strong runs but lacking composure. I liked the way he charged back after losing the ball, taking out his man in the process, Franks offered little but then we produced little threat in attack generally. Perhaps with Cassidy returning to the fray, we might at last have a constructive pattern up front.

We obviously need to start scoring a few goals if we are to make progress against teams in this very ordinary league. Boreham Wood aren’t a bad side with speedy attackers willing to take on and get behind defenders and on another day would probably have made more of their chances. Their large no-nonsense defenders made sure they cleared the ball and didn’t bother to play the ball out from the back. At corners, they employed an unusual tactic with four attackers/defenders lined up, arms on shoulders, on the penalty spot before breaking in different directions as the kick was taken.

The crowd totalled 773 of which there was a healthy 285 contingent from Pools. Oh, and apart from a couple of occasions when he penalized Pools for “making a back”, I thought that the ref had a decent game for once.