A Fair Return

Match report by ALREET

Boreham Wood 1 Pools 1 (National League)
Saturday 29 February 2020
Meadow Park

My second 'true' home game in a month so I trotted off around the corner to catch the local bus. Standing there in bright sunshine, the picture changed dramatically as the bus approached Watford when a huge black cloud appeared overhead. The inevitable rain came pouring down, closely followed by an enormous bombardment of hailstones, so dense, that visibility was reduced dramatically and the ground disappeared under what appeared to be a carpet of snow. All within about twenty minutes.

Now, I have lived all my life on the North West outskirts of London and had visited Borehamwood on many occasions to play cricket, have a look at a small colony of around forty Monk Parakeets and so on but it was only when I went there to see Pools a couple of years ago that I realized the football club were actually Boreham Wood, named after the original spelling of the town. Walking up to the roundabout prior to the ground, I noticed a road sign directing traffic to "Borehamwood Football Club". Oh, well.

Despite the home side wearing all white, Pools wore their green change kit and the match started with us attacking the home end. An early pass back to Killip was wide of the mark and despite his dive, he was unable to prevent it going out for a corner. This was cleared but immediately returned and a powerful header from their 'lump' (21) was tipped on to the post by Killip where the rebound was gleefully hit into the net. Despite heated protests for offside from the Pools players, the ref allowed the goal to stand. A disastrous start in such an important game.

We then conceded a free kick about 25 yards from goal but Killip easily caught the ball. We then got up the other end and won a corner but the inswinger went straight to their keeper. A great through ball out wide from Harker looked promising but the cross was blocked. We then built a good move on our right but the ball across their box found Kitching whose powerful drive cleared the bar. This was better from Pools and they had another shot deflected over the bar. Wood's dangerous No.11, Marsh, played a quick ball through but their No.9, Tshimanga didn't make anything of it.
"...casually passed it low down to Killip's right who took a swig out of his bottle as he waited to dive down to make the save."

The home side were applying pressure once again and a header from yet another corner flashed just wide of our right post. This was closely followed by another corner from their left which had an identical finish. Up to this point, I don't think that Pools had cleared a single corner. There followed a scramble in the home goal with their keeper falling on the ball. The 'hulk' put in an appearance wide on the right and, from looking large at a distance, appeared enormous up close. It was only then that I recognized him as Matt Rhead (ex Lincoln). Considering his size, a mere brush from a Pools defender sent him into a belated dive for which the term "theatrical" couldn't have done justice.

On the far side, Kitching and Touré combined to set up Shelton but the keeper was equal to his effort. The ref blew for half-time and Pools left the pitch probably thinking that being only a goal down was being kind to them.

The second half had hardly started when Pools, attacking the Poolie end, got the ball into the home area and it fell to Touré who flashed a fierce left-footed shot past the keeper for our equalizer. That was more like it but it wasn't to last long.

The home side attacked again and a ball knocked in to our box was handled by Featherstone, I think, and the ref pointed to the spot with hardly a whimper from Pools' defenders. Thomas, their highly impressive No.14,  was given the honour and after an extremely slow walk up to the ball, casually passed it low down to Killip's right who took a swig out of his bottle as he waited to dive down to make the save.  One of the worst penalties I have ever seen. (I shouldn't really scoff though as it reminded me of a similar case where I ended up with a red face. My excuse was that the pitch was a mud bath and I changed my mind and tried to give the ball some extra wellie - hardly the case on Saturday).

The Wood kept up the momentum and smacked a shot over our bar. Hawkes came on to replace Molyneux who had been very quiet all afternoon before the Tshimanga was similarly replaced although he had contributed a lot to BW's cause. Pools cleared a home attack but the ball landed at the feet of a home forward who rattled our bar with a vicious volley from around 18 yards. They then had a goal ruled out for offside before a ball out found the galloping M S-H inside the home box. He appeared to receive a blatant shove but the ref saw things differently despite blowing up for virtually every minor push since the kick-off. This was in direct contrast to the linesman on our side who barely spotted an offside in the first half starting with their goal.

Touré made a mazy run down our left and won a corner but it was taken comfortably by their keeper. Harker took on three home defenders but lacked any support before being replaced by Holohan. This saw Touré move inside and take up a central position with Donaldson pushing forward on the right. The latter was quickly into his stride and a smart ball through to the overlapping M S-H saw his cross only just clear the far post. Woods won a good tackle on their left but the following shot was easily gathered by Killip. The last action saw the home side waste yet another corner before the final whistle sounded.

A draw was a fair return from a game which saw the home side in the ascendancy during the first half while we mounted a spirited response after the break. They employed a very effective front three who always looked a threat as they attacked us with balls up to the bullying Rhead, closely supported by their nippy Tshimanga and Marsh. An added threat came from Thomas with his powerful runs from deep on the left flank causing us all sorts of problems. I was surprised that we didn't see much of this after the break although he looked equally accomplished in defence. I doubt that he will be wearing a BW shirt for much longer.

We, on the other hand, had plenty of possession in the first half but never really got going and lacked the hosts' pace and directness. Our equalizer obviously gave us a lift and we became far more involved in proceedings. Getting on the front foot, we were able to attack down the flanks and gave as good as we got. Liddle and Odusina had a difficult afternoon while M S-H and Kitching were finding more space to get forward as the game progressed. Likewise, Featherstone, who had been quiet and largely marked out of the game in the early stages. Harker worked hard with little reward while Donaldson and Shelton found more room and Touré began to show more of his fancy footwork.

A nice touch at the final whistle when Donaldson led some of the team around the perimeter to shake hands with the departing Poolies.

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