Danny Kedwell’s second-half penalty delivered a precious, long-awaited win for the Fleet who had gone nine, largely frustrating matches without a three-point haul. Daryl McMahon won’t mind how they come and while this result might have been a narrow win, it was a well-worked, tactically shrewd triumph with a second-half performance that cancelled out the home side’s promising first-half display.
McMahon named an unchanged lineup against his former teammate Luke Garrard’s high-scoring side, who had beaten both Aldershot Town and Leyton Orient at Meadow Park in recent weeks.
In the early moments, Boreham Wood showed flashes of just why they’ve enjoyed a good goal return and the Fleet defenders had to be alert from the first whistle. Former Bromley striker Blair Turgott looked lively and he fizzed in a low cross from the left that caused problems and he continued to operate down both flanks to good effect, while Kane Smith behind him at wing back was another adventurous player.
Myles Weston was Fleet’s primary threat and he delivered the first shot for the visitors on seven minutes, which took a deflection for a corner. Neither side could wrestle control of the game, however, and while Boreham Wood looked bright in midfield, they didn’t create too many opportunities beyond that area of the pitch.
Loan signing from Cheltenham, Dan Holman, offered one of the few glimpses of out and out attack as he countered down the left for the home side on 24 minutes and was allowed to stroll into the box and get away a decent effort that Nathan Ashmore did well to gather.
Eight minutes later, Danny Mills got the ball down in a rare spell inside the Wood box and the Fleet striker held up play until Jack Powell arrived but he was marshalled out of the six-yard box. This was Fleet’s best period of play and patient build-up on 38 minutes saw some intricate passing along the Boreham Wood box before Sam Magri took the chance to shoot, a decent, rising attempt that just cleared the crossbar.
The home side finished the first period on top and it was enough to convince McMahon to ring the changes for the second 45. Off went Jack Payne with a knock to his knee as well as Mills, with Dean Rance and Kedwell introduced. Kedwell’s presence immediately added a little more steel to his side and they set about Boreham Wood with more purpose.
On 58 minutes, Kedwell’s dummy set up Luke Coulson on the left and he whipped in a solid cross that the onrushing Powell just failed to connect with in the six-yard box. It was Coulson’s last contribution and he was replaced by Darren McQueen on the hour mark.
But with McMahon perhaps sensing the game was there for the taking, it nearly unravelled moments later. Keiran Murtagh led a charge upfield and a quick ball into the box outwitted the Fleet defence allowing two shots on goal from Turgott and Bruno Andrande, both of which Ashmore did ever so well to stop. But it seemed his efforts were in vain as he attempted to pounce on a loose ball on the goalline but Holman managed to bundle it in. However, the linesman’s flag for offside was a welcome sight for the 215 Fleet fans.
That began a spell of Boreham Wood pressure and the Fleet defence was rocking for a good five minutes but they stood firm and Ashmore had to be alert to beat Turgott to a ball into space in the box.
Having weathered that brief revival, McQueen started to see more passes into his feet and on 70 minutes he controlled a ball in the final third, sped into a gap away from his marker and rifled a low shot past goalkeeper Grant Smith that came back off the foot of the post, via the keeper’s glove. He went one better eight minutes later when zipping on to another pass, he accelerated between two defenders into the penalty area but was manhandled rather too vigorously by Dean Wells and the referee pointed to the spot.
Kedwell struck his penalty to Smith’s left to put his side in front and from then it was just a matter of closing the game out. Fleet might have had trouble doing so in recent weeks, but their last 12 minutes plus five of added time was a masterclass of game management. Defending outside their box and winning a succession of free-kicks and throw-ins to blunt any attempts by Boreham Wood to mount a revival, the last minutes weren’t too taxing from an away supporter’s point of view. The home side had one effort that Paul Benson sent across goal but Ashmore was fairly redundant for the final minutes and three points came home to Kent.
EUFC: Ashmore, Magri, Connors, Bush, Clark, Payne (Rance 46), Powell, Drury, Coulson (McQueen 61), Weston, Mills (Kedwell 46). Subs not used: Mambo, Miles
BWFC: G Smith, K Smith, Champion, Wells, Stephens, Ricketts (Turley 85), Shakes, Andrade, Murtagh, Turgott (Benson 64), Holman (Jeffers 85). Subs not used:
Attendance: 622 (215 from EUFC)