Saturday 4th November
Boreham Wood 2-1 Blackpool
FA Cup 1st Round
BOREHAM WOOD had waited 70 years for this day. With BBC TV covering the occasion, Wood came from behind to record the club’s first-ever win against Football League opposition in the FA Cup.
Even before kick-off, this was already no ordinary day at Meadow Park. The BBC had chosen to broadcast its lunchtime Football Focus show live from Meadow Park. Their crew would also continue with live updates from the touchline throughout the afternoon.
Club President Bill O’Neill, one of the club’s founder members in 1948 and who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, was in attendance too.
Boreham Wood and Blackpool had met at the same stage of the FA Cup 14 seasons ago. More recently, Wood had competed well but gone out of the competition against Brentford, Carlisle and – 12 months ago – Notts County.
When Wood and the Seasiders met in 2003, four divisions separated the two sides. That gap has since been reduced to two, and that despite Blackpool playing a season of Premier League football in 2010/11.
Whilst clear scoring opportunities were scarce in a closely-contested first half, it was the visitors who came the closest. Inside the first ten minutes, there was a let-off for Wood when Callum Cooke miscued a shot wide after playing a neat one-two with Danny Philliskirk,
In fact Cooke might have had a hat-trick before half-time. He was denied by the outstretched foot of Wood keeper Grant Smith and also saw a shot rebound off the near post just before the break.
But Wood never looked in awe of their opponents. Bruno Andrade’s curling 25-yard free-kick was comfortably collected by Seasiders’ keeper Ryan Allsop, and Dave Stephens headed narrowly wide from a corner.
Luke Garrard’s team, who tend to flourish in the underdog role, continued to raise their game after half-time. In a warning for the visitors, Angelo Balanta sent a 20-yard drive narrowly past the upright as the hour-mark approached.
But it was Blackpool who then broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Escaping the attention of Stephens, Philliskirk latched onto Nathan Delfouneso’s diagonal through ball before driving low past Smith from just inside the box.
Wood manager Luke Garrard’s swift response was to freshen things up in attack, sending on Blair Turgott and Dan Holman as direct swaps for Balanta and Shaun Jeffers respectively.
Within two minutes, it was Turgott who brought the hosts level. After Andrade had supplied the pass for Kane Smith to find space on the right, the substitute timed his run into the box perfectly to meet Smith’s cross and side-foot the ball high into the net from eight yards.
Wood were now in the ascendancy, as Holman curled an effort from the corner of the penalty area into Allsop’s arms moments later.
The clock had ticked past 88 minutes when Wood sent Meadow Park into dreamland. Andrade’s corner from the right was flicked on by Kieran Murtagh. As defender Sean Longstaff failed to clear, substitute Holman was in the right place to slide the ball home from point-blank range at the far post.
It had become one of those days where a manager’s substitutions turned out to be an inspired move.
A mini pitch invasion followed, and was repeated at the final whistle minutes later, in scenes not witnessed at Meadow Park since the play-off final victories of 2010 and 2015.
That elusive win against Football League opposition achieved, Wood take their place in the 2nd Round Proper of the FA Cup for only the second time in the club’s history.
Whatever tomorrow evening’s draw brings, Wood will now only have to wait four weeks for their next FA Cup adventure.
BOREHAM WOOD: G Smith, K Smith, Woodards, Ricketts, Wells, Stephens, Champion, Murtagh, Andrade, Jeffers (Holman 65), Balanta (Turgott 65). Subs not used: Shakes, Benson, Bozkurt, Turley, Thomas.
Blackpool: Allsop, Mellor, Taylor, Aimson, Anderton (Gnanduillet 90), Ryan (Longstaff 75), Philliskirk (Solomon 75), Turton, Cooke, Delfouneso, Spearing. Subs not used: Williams, D’Almeida, Clayton, Quigley.
REFEREE: Mr C Sarginson