7 February 2016

Blowing in the Wind

Saturday 6th February 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 0-2 Kidderminster Harriers
Meadow Park
Attendance: 366 (away support 80)
BOREHAM WOOD's home gremlins - just four league wins at Meadow Park since Boxing Day of last season - returned on Saturday, as rock-bottom Kidderminster Harriers claimed all three points with a deserved 2-0 win.

Wood's four game unbeaten run, albeit spread over a six-week period due to a couple of postponements - had raised fans' hopes that their team could pull clear of danger in the second half of the season.

But, not for the first time, what looked on paper like a highly winnable game for Wood, saw Luke Garrard's team slump to a hugely disappointing defeat, a result which leaves them in the National League's bottom four with 16 games remaining.

Three seasons ago Kidderminster Harriers so nearly clinched a second promotion to the Football League, missing out by just two points to Mansfield Town, before losing a two-legged play-off semi-final to Wrexham.

Fast forward to the present day, and the Worcestershire side arrived at Meadow Park rooted to the bottom of the table, 16 points adrift of safety after a run of seven consecutive defeats.

But Wood manager Luke Garrard, having watched the Harriers lose narrowly at Aldershot Town seven days earlier, used his programme notes to warn that today's opponents were "playing with a real confidence which does not reflect their league position".

After weathering Wood's promising start, that confidence became evident for the sparse Meadow Park crowd to see, as Colin Gordon's team stamped their authority on the game and clinched a 2-0 win - their first away success in over a year.

The first goal came against the run of play in the 21st minute after a cleverly worked free-kick.  Ben Whitfield and Elton Ngwatala initially appeared to get in each other's way, briefly distracting Wood's defensive wall.  Ngwata then tapped the ball to Whitfield who curled the ball beyond James Russell from 25 yards.

Harriers' second - a penalty from Ngwatala - seemed to go almost unnoticed by many of the home fans, who already appeared resigned to another home defeat on a this grey and blustery afternoon.

Match report for Real Footy Talk.

So where to now for Wood following their eighth home defeat in 17 National League games this season?

Having only two league games plus a Herts Senior Cup tie in 36 days prior to yesterday has not helped in terms of continuity and match fitness, as Garrard looks to bed in his January signings Jordan Chiedozie, Jamie Lucas and Delano Sam-Yorke.

On Tuesday night Wood travel to National League South outfit Bishops Stortford for the semi-final of the Herts Senior Cup, hoping to reach the final of this competition for the third consecutive season.

Next Saturday then brings a testing trip to third-placed Grimsby Town.  But it's against the stronger teams in the National League that Wood have produced some of their most encouraging performances this season.  The loyal fans who make the trip to Lincolnshire next weekend will certainly be looking for a big improvement on what they witnessed yesterday.

5 February 2016

Match Preview: Boreham Wood v Kidderminster Harriers

AFTER another 14-day gap between National League fixtures, Boreham Wood return to action when they host bottom-of-the-table Kidderminster Harriers at Meadow Park tomorrow.

The postponement of last Saturday's game at Southport left Wood with a fortnight's break in their league programme for the second time since New Year, although Luke Garrard's team did enjoy a single-goal win at home to a young Watford side in the Herts Senior Cup on 26th January.

It's just three seasons ago that Kidderminster Harriers were just pipped to the National League - then still known as the Conference - title, eventually finishing as runners-up, just two points behind champions Mansfield Town.  Defeat to Wrexham in the two-legged play-off semi-final then ended the Harriers' hopes of a return to the Football League, of which the Worcestershire club was a member from 2000 to 2005.

Since then, a decline in fortunes both on and off the pitch has seen the Harriers finish 7th and 16th in the past two seasons, and tomorrow Colin Gordon's team will arrive in Hertsmere occupying bottom place in the National League table with just 14 points from 28 games, a daunting 16 points adrift of safety.

A run of seven consecutive league defeats has left the Harriers with a huge task to avoid dropping below the top five divisions for the first time since 1983.  Their last win was a 2-0 success against Aldershot Town back on 14th November.

Wood were boosted this week by the news that midfielder Conor Clifford has signed a contract extension which will keep him at Meadow Park until the end of next season.

With Wood also currently occupying a relegation place, and having scored only 25 goals - just one more than tomorrow's opponents - in 31 games, nothing less than a win will be satisfactory for either side at Meadow Park.

Boreham Wood v Kidderminster Harriers

Vanarama National League
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 5AL
Saturday 6th February 2016
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

25 January 2016

Ins and Outs

Saturday 23rd January 2016
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 1-1 Eastleigh
Meadow Park
Attendance: 406 (away support 125)

BOREHAM WOOD keeper James Russell was two minutes away from a fourth consecutive clean sheet, when Eastleigh's Andy Drury turned in a corner from close range to rescue a point for the promotion-chasing visitors at Meadow Park.

Match report.

The January transfer window has - as expected - seen a few changes in Wood's playing squad.  Chairman Danny Hunter has been working closely with First Team Manager Luke Garrard and Director of Football Ian Allinson to give the club the best possible chance of retaining its National League status.

Prior to today's game, Wood's 28 league games had seen the team score 24 goals and concede 30 - a clear enough indication of where the problems lie.

So shoring up the strikeforce has been the priority during the past three weeks.

Following the acquisition of Jordan Chiedozie from Cambridge United, the club has added Delano Sam-Yorke to the squad - on loan from Forest Green Rovers until the end of the season.

Also back at Meadow Park is Bristol Rovers striker Jamie Lucas, who returns for his third loan spell of the season.  The 21-year-old's four goals in his previous two loan stints are enough to make him Wood's top scorer in the current campaign.

To balance the books, two strikers have departed Meadow Park.

Charlie MacDonald, who joined from Barnet in the summer, has been loaned to neighbours St Albans City for the rest of the season, which will run down his contract at Meadow Park.

Also heading out is Mustafa Tiryaki who has returned to his native Turkey and joined Manisa Büyüksehir Belediye Spor Kulübü for an undisclosed fee.

Lucas celebrated his return to Meadow Park today by opening the scoring just before half-time, before making way for Sam-Yorke midway through the second half.

My match report for Real Footy Talk is here.