Stag of Herts: Saving The Day
Saturday 9th January 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 0-0 Cheltenham Town
Attendance: 647 (away support 313)
HOME wins and goals have been in short supply for Boreham Wood in their first season in non-league football’s top tier.
But although neither of those materialised on Saturday, Wood can take heart from a strong performance and the point gained against the National League leaders.
Match report here.
Cheltenham Town arrived in Hertfordshire on a run of eight wins and a draw in their last nine league games. That strong recent form had taken Gary Johnson’s team four points clear at the top of the table, ahead of their Gloucestershire neighbours and early-season pace-setters Forest Green Rovers.
For Wood, with only two home wins in 13 games since their opening day victory against FC Halifax Town, this game was sure to be a big test.
New signing Jordan Chiedozie, signed on loan from Cambridge United until the end of the season, went straight into the Wood team. Despite being the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation, Wood’s new recruit was supported by Ricky Shakes and Anthony Jeffrey who provided additional attacking threat from the flanks.
Unfortunately an early knock left Chiedozie requiring treatment. Despite nearly making a dream start when he couldn’t quite get a foot to Conor Clifford’s ninth-minute cross, he would eventually be substituted ten minutes into the second half
Two fine saves from Wood keeper James Russell in the closing stages of the first half kept the scoresheet blank. First, he tipped Ryan Jennings’ header over the bar, then did even better to parry Billy Waters’ rising shot at full stretch around his right-hand post.
‘Rusty’ continued that fine form after the break, diverting Harry Pell’s 72nd-minute free-kick over the bar, as the visitors began to stamp their authority on the game.
Yet, against the run of play, it was Wood who threatened to snatch an unlikely victory in the closing stages.
Only a last-ditch challenge denied Jeffrey in the 86th minute, and two minutes later Shakes was unlucky to see his shot strike the Robins’ crossbar, with Jeffrey not quite able to convert the rebound.
Not to be outdone by his opposite number, Cheltenham keeper Dillon Phillips then produced an outstanding save of his own to deny Clovis Kamdjo deep into stoppage time.
And still there was time for Russell to pull off his fourth piece of brilliance of the afternoon when he deflected Asa Hall’s shot on the turn out for a late corner.
The Wood keeper’s exploits were enough to earn him a place in the Non-League Paper’s ‘Team of the Day’.
The point gained, together with a third consecutive clean sheet, is a good start to 2016 for Wood, but Luke Garrard and his team will need goals and wins if they are to pull away from the danger zone in the second half of the season.
With the January transfer window now open, Wood Chairman Danny Hunter set out the club’s intentions in his typically forthright programme notes today.
Apart from the signing of Chiedozie and finalising the paperwork on Anthony Jeffrey’s contract, Clovis Kamdjo’s loan from Forest Green Rovers has been confirmed until the end of the season.
Josh Hill and Matty Whichelow are expected to remain with their loan clubs – Havant & Waterlooville and Chelmsford City respectively – for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile Wood are still looking at possibly bringing in another two or three attacking players. Only when that task is complete, will the club consider letting anyone else out on loan.
The chairman has stated that he will be backing his Director of Football Ian Allinson and First Team Manager Luke Garrard “in what will prove to be the most important transfer window in our history.”
The message from Meadow Park is that the club is putting all necessary resources in place to achieve its goal of staying in the National League.