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Battling Wood Make Their Point.
A stand out performance helped wrestle a massive point on the road against the second favourites for the League Title.
There was plenty of fight about Ian Allinson’s side who have not had it all their own way with some poor results of late. This was an intriguing tie, with the home side very much in the ascendancy until the half hour mark.
Wood were excellent defensively as a team and the frustrations and errors soon started to creep into the home side’s game. In fact the second half belonged to Wood who got stronger as the game wore on. The obvious question mark remains the lack of goals again this season, with Wood registering less than one per game, a statistic that must change if maximum points on a more regular basis are desired.
Ben Nunn made a welcome return to action, allowing Greg Morgan a more forward role, a feature dearly missed in the previous games.
It was Daryl McMahon who first tested James Russell with a low driven free kick. McMahon was influential all afternoon, his deflected shot minutes later earning a corner.
Wood tested Preston Edwards in The Fleet goal when Jerome Jibodu’s cross was volleyed into the ground by Graeme Montgomery.
The Wood defence worked extremely hard to restrict the home side’s number of efforts on goal. Andy Pugh’s ball forward was headed down by Billy Bricknell into the path of Stacy Long who forced Russell into a fine full stretch save. Mario Noto then struck a free kick that looked on target until Matthew Ball diverted it just wide of the goal.
A fine McMahon half volley was well saved by Russell who got down quickly repelling the danger, before the Wood defence parted for the one and only time in the whole game allowing Bricknell through on goal, whose finish was off target.
The second half saw a change of referee and a change in force, with Wood looking the likelier to get a positive result, a feeling that grew as the game wore on.
Montgomery was allowed two chances from a decent range yet he failed to trouble Edwards with either. Even without goals it was an absorbing tie, with the game ebbing and flowing. Wood substitute Matthew Ball tried an audacious lob from the half way line, before McMahon flashed a shot across goal at the other end.
Another old Wood favourite Michael Thallassitis sent a diving header over the bar from a corner, before a superb goal line clearance at the near post from Jibodu denied him with six minutes remaining. There was a real urgency from both sides to conjure up a winner in a game that went right to the wire.
The Fleet Manager Steve Brown rushed urgently to confront the referee at the final whistle as seconds before he had waved play on when Anthony Cook and Charlie O’Loughlin fought for possession inside the penalty area.
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jibodu, Cox, O’Loughlin, Garrard, Noto, Ball (Whichelow 74), Simmonds, Morgan (Hastings 85), Montgomery (Wooley 74).
Subs not used: Doolan, Courtnage.
Bookings: Morgan, Nunn, Jibodu, Garrard.