Home English Non-league Boreham Wood shock Bournemouth in FA Cup

Non-league Boreham Wood shock Bournemouth in FA Cup

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Non-league Boreham Wood shock Bournemouth in FA Cup

Bournemouth 0 Boreham Wood 1

When Danny Hunter took over as the chairman of Boreham Wood in 1999, he was working in the film industry as a prop master. He won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, he was a part of the team that made Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and there were plenty of James Bonds, too.

Were any of the silver screen dramas as gripping and outlandish as this? In the prickly heat of the moment, surely the greatest in Boreham Wood’s 74-year-history, the answer had to be no.

Under the astute management of Luke Garrard, who has been at the helm since October 2015, Boreham Wood have established themselves in the National League, the top tier of the non-league game – and on a relative shoestring budget. They have gone close to promotion to the Football League, losing the play-off final to Tranmere at Wembley in 2017-18, and they are well-placed for another push this season.

Garrard calls promotion the “Holy Grail.” This was La-La Land. Only three times previously have Boreham Wood taken a Football League scalp in the FA Cup – those of Blackpool in 2017-18, Southend last season and Wimbledon in the third round of the competition this time out. Those clubs were in Leagues One and Two.

But in Boreham Wood’s first ever fourth round tie, this was Bournemouth – a club that has designs on promotion into the Premier League, which recruited heavily in January to help them there.

Garrard’s team were deserved winners. They rode their luck at times towards the end but it was no siege. They had been the better team in the first half, Bournemouth shapeless and inviting boos from their support, with the goal coming on 38 minutes from the captain, Mark Ricketts – a precise low shot from the edge of the area after Bournemouth could not clear. Ricketts had been a youth-team player at Charlton when Scott Parker, the Bournemouth manager, was a star at the south London club.

Bournemouth went close towards the end but it was not their day. They simply did not create enough. “We’re going to Wembley,” chanted the Boreham Wood fans. They are actually going to Goodison Park for a fifth round tie against Everton.

Garrard had predicted that Parker would largely field the team that started at Yeovil – another National League club – in the previous round of this competition and he was right. Parker made nine changes from the Championship win at Barnsley last time out and yet he could still call upon players whose pedigree dwarfed that of their opponents.

There were debuts for the January deadline day loanees, Freddie Woodman and Nat Phillips, who have come from Newcastle and Liverpool, and it was always going to be vital for Boreham Wood to keep their focus as narrow as possible, to play the game and not the scale of the occasion, even if it was pinch-me time for the fans that had travelled.

They were determined to enjoy it and how they howled for an early penalty when Josh Rees went over Phillips’ leg after an incision from the right wingback, Kane Smith. So did Garrard and his staff. Was this to be the moment? It was not a foul.

Boreham Wood’s wingbacks were under orders to push up, with Garrard not wanting to die wondering. Rees worked centrally, in front of the midfield but deeper than the wide attackers, Tyrone Marsh and Scott Boden, and Garrard could be extremely pleased at how his team settled.

Parker could be unhappy at the first half efforts of his team, his emotions getting the better of him on 36 minutes as they tried to play out from the back and it all looked rather laborious. Moments later, Boreham Wood had the goal and who could say that they did not deserve it?

The spark came from Jacob Mendy, the left wingback, who began his career within the Atlético Madrid youth team set-up. He burst to the byline to pull back a low cross, which produced a rushed and unconvincing clearance from the Bournemouth midfielder, Gavin Kilkenny.

Ricketts was waiting and his low side-foot went through a crowd, kissed the inside of Woodman’s right-hand post and went in. In the technical area, Garrard tried to show little emotion before he threw the contents of a water bottle up and all over the place – a metaphor for how he must have been feeling inside.

The boos for Bournemouth were loud when the half-time whistle went. Moments earlier, Lewis Cook had lifted high – Bournemouth’s only real effort of the first-half – to draw an ironic chant from the home crowd. Yes, they had mustered a shot but, more seriously, they were staring at humiliation.

Parker introduced Ryan Christie and another deadline day loanee, Todd Cantwell, for the second half – a sign of his urgency but where was it from his players? Woodman was almost caught out by a Ricketts cross that swirled towards the far corner and Boreham Wood dug in hard at the other end, their commitment epitomised by the centre-half, David Stephens, who gave no quarter in the challenge.

Cantwell played on the right of Parker’s midfield three and he saw plenty of the ball. Bournemouth pressed more and more on to the front foot and, inevitably, they came on strong in the closing stages, as Parker made three more substitutions – including the introduction of his leading scorer, Dominic Solanke.

Philip Billing lobbed high when played through by Christie on 76 minutes and then Taye Ashby-Hammond tipped a shot from the latter up and against the crossbar. Billing headed the rebound against the woodwork but he was offside and it did not matter when Jaidon Anthony put the rebound into the net. Deep into five nerve-shredding added minutes, Boreham Wood knew they had pulled it off when Solanke dragged a low shot just wide.

– Guardian

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