Tuesday 8th August
Boreham Wood 1-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Vanarama National League
BOREHAM WOOD’s first home league game of the season ended in a 2-1 defeat against Dagenham & Redbridge on a chilly evening at Meadow Park.
An early mistake from Wood’s new vice-captain Tom Champion gifted the opening goal to Feji Okenabirhie, before a Bruno Andrade penalty brought the hosts level. With still less than 20 minutes played, Corey Whitely’s superb 30-yard free-kick put the Daggers back in front, and a late rally from Wood proved in vain.
Six of the Wood starting line-up were making their full home debuts, after joining the club in the summer. But there were early injury concerns for manager Luke Garrard too, with Danny Woodards, Dean Wells, Dave Stephens and Bradley Ash unavailable for selection.
The visitors line-up included Morgan Ferrier, Wood’s top scorer last term, who made the switch to east London during the close season, with Wood’s new striker Paul Benson moving in the opposite direction. The Daggers’ bench also contained two former Wood faces, defender Scott Doe and new first team coach Junior Lewis.
Wood made a disastrous start by conceding the opening goal inside three minutes. Tom Champion’s header towards his keeper Grant Smith fell woefully short, allowing Okenabirhie to intercept and fire home.
Recovering from that early setback, Luke Garrard’s team were level just four minutes later. Weaving into the penalty area, Andrade was brought down in a tussle with Kevin Lokko, the referee swiftly pointing to the penalty spot. It was Andrade who took the kick himself, blasting the ball high past Mark Cousins.
Sam Ling’s long throw-ins were proving an early threat to Wood, and it was from one of these that Grant Smith was forced into a save at full stretch, tipping Luke Pennell’s header around the post for a corner.
But the Daggers were soon back in front. From a free-kick awarded for a trip on Ferrier in a central position 30 yards from goal, Whitely brilliantly curled the ball over the defensive wall and beyond Smith.
Wood were looking shaky at the back, and another misplaced back-pass from Champion led to Kane Smith handling the ball and conceding an indirect free-kick inside the penalty area, Ferrier blasting this one into the wall.
Further saves from Grant Smith before half-time kept Wood in the contest going into the half-time interval.
The home side gradually improved after the break. Kieran Murtagh should have done better when miscuing a free header wide after meeting Andrade’s inviting cross from the right.
Andrade also forced a smart save low down by the post from Cousins after cutting inside, as Wood raised the tempo around the hour-mark.
At the other end, Grant Smith was again called upon to save Wood, parrying substitute Matt Robinson’s close-range shot to safety after a corner had been headed across the box.
But Wood were desperately unlucky not to rescue a point as the game entered three minutes of stoppage time, when Andrade’s fierce 25-yard shot crashed down off the crossbar and bounced clear.
In more late action, Ricky Shakes claimed he had been impeded when racing onto a long ball forward, which the visitors were able to scramble clear.
Whilst a return of one point from the opening two games represents a disappointing start to the season, Luke Garrard’s team can take encouragement from the second-half performance against one of the league’s promotion favourites.
Wood now prepare for another home game, with Solihull Moors due to visit Meadow Park this coming Saturday.
BOREHAM WOOD: G Smith, K Smith, Ricketts, Shakes, Champion, Benson (Sach 78), Murtagh (Jeffers 74), Andrade, Johnson, Turley, Balanta. Subs not used: Bozkurt, Gordon, Keita.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE: Cousins, Pennell, Robson, Ferrier (67 Hawkins), Okenabirhie (87 Howells), N’Gala, Boucaud, Lokko, Ling, Cheek (74 Robinson), Whitely. Subs not used: Justham, Doe.
REFEREE: Mr S Yianni
ATTENDANCE: 635 (away support 285)