Four Bore Shots Top Off Hatters
The Hatters’ first-ever visit to the ‘home of British film and television’ saw them endure something of a horror show, as they fell to their heaviest defeat of the season, together with a hat-trick of losses for the first time in over three years.
Watching a National League fixture in the shadows of the two remaining Elstree Studios was always going to be a Vanaramic, rather than a panoramic, experience – but three first-half goals for Boreham Wood effectively ended the contest as a spectacle, before a fourth was added late on, leaving County to return north from Hertfordshire empty-handed.
Jim Gannon’s side had taken to Meadow Park’s hi-tech, hybrid Desso surface in the Indian summer sunshine, showing three changes from the starting line-up on the pure and simple grass of SK3 against Aldershot a week previously. Ian Ormson replaced the unavailable Ben Hinchliffe in goal for his first league appearance since the final-day contest of 2017/18 with Darlington at Edgeley Park, while Festus Arthur and Ben Jackson replaced Ash Palmer (who had broken down during the pre-match warm-up) and Sam Minihan in the outfield.
The hosts earned three corners within the opening six minutes, as they forced the early pace – although their first two attempts on the County goal, courtesy of Keiran Murtagh’s shot and a Tyrone Marsh chip, both from just outside the box, flew well high and wide of target.
But with 19 minutes played, the pressure paid off – as Sorba Thomas played in leading scorer Kabongo Tshimanga, who rounded Ormson before slotting home to give ‘The Wood’ the lead.
Eight minutes later, the advantage was doubled – with Thomas adding a goal to his assist, after advancing through midfield and unleashing a low, left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner.
The Hatters, in response, won their first and second corners just after the half-hour mark, and then replaced Jackson with Minihan in order to supplement the three-man defensive line. But still the hosts pressed, and Murtagh went close with a swivel and angled shot that flew narrowly over from inside the six-yard box.
As half-time approached, County looked to be going in with a two-goal deficit for the third successive match. But four minutes before the break, Tshimanga ended that particular sequence by beating the offside trap and side-footing in from a tight angle to the right of goal.
Adam Thomas came close to doing likewise at the other end just ahead of added time, but his effort was kept out by the legs of home goalkeeper David Gregory.
HALF-TIME: Boreham Wood 3 (Tshimanga, 19 and 41; S Thomas, 27), County 0.
The Hatters re-emerged to create much of the early second-half attacking play – although the hosts produced the first shot on target, with Ormson denying Tshimanga his hat-trick by parrying an acrobatic effort following a corner from the left.
Five minutes after the hour, Tshimanga had an even better opportunity to increase his tally after Minihan brought down Tom Champion near the left post and the hosts were awarded a penalty. But Ormson again prevented the striker from claiming the match-ball as he dived to his right to keep the spot-kick out.
Any slight relief that Ormson’s save might have brought was wiped away a minute from time, when The Wood bagged a fourth. Substitute Justin Shaibu weaved his way into the County box, before teeing up Marsh who fired home from close range.
FULL-TIME: Boreham Wood 4 (Tshimanga, 19 and 41; S Thomas, 27; Marsh, 89), County 0.
Team (3-5-2): Ormson; Cowan, Arthur, Keane; A Thomas (Mulhern, 67), Turnbull (Capt.), Osborne (Dimaio, 56), Walker, Jackson (Minihan, 33); Bell, Leesley.
Unused Subs: Palmer, Gorst.
Attendance: 744 (370 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.