The Word In The Wood

Read through our latest blog posts and enjoy!

Filter:

Latest Posts

20/21 The Word in the Wood #11

Posted on 19th December, 2020

The move to a new Tier 4 caused understandable confusion Saturday night as the WFL postponed all matches before the government later advised U18s grassroots football would be continuing.

 

Our U10s & U11s games were off anyway due to their opposition quarantining and as the year closes, the club sincerely thanks both Jamie and Greg, and Craig and Sam for the excellent job they have done and the time they've given up training and supporting their young players this year. The boys in both squads are getting an excellent footballing education and are being shaped by coaches that are very enthusiastic and talented. 2021 will be a great year for both sides!

 

With important League games imminent, our U12 Boys took on the runaway leaders of a higher division - Bushey Rangers - in a keenly contested match.

 

The boys started really well, continuing their recent passing improvement with Hones in outstanding form on the left. Makamian & Manning worked hard and effectively in centre midfield, making excellent decisions and passing the ball quickly to start rapid attacks. Malcolm struck a fine shot that cannoned off the crossbar after a slick team move while Song & George looked lively whenever on the ball. MoM went to Marshall who enjoyed a simply outstanding game which included a penalty save, a fine punched clearance, multiple saves pushed to the side away from danger and a plethora of excellent passes with his feet.

 

Ultimately, the boys were unable to find the finish their build up play deserved, while their opponents were able to do so, by slipping their markers from corners or capitalising from the Wood playing balls out the back too centrally. Despite this, manager Makamian was very pleased when he attended the post match press conference and spoke at length. 'The boys have really improved in all aspects of the game this year and we are very proud of them indeed. Great thanks go to their coaches Marcus and Paul, who have dedicated so much time to steer them forward, while our mentor and salt of the earth - Frank - has had an incredible impact on the boys' technique and approach to the game, something none of us will ever forget. Like all teams striving to succeed, we have big challenges in the New Year and look forward to these with relish.' I don't know about you, but, I just can't argue with that!

 

***

 

Our U18 Girls were due to play in the League today but, the game was postponed due to opposition players having to quarantine. Very good to see the squad training instead as we all know that practice makes perfect.

 

This time last year we had two very depleted squads at U15 & U16 with both teams looking likely to fold and morale at a real ebb. A year later and we have 21 young women with bundles of talent & potential signed at U18, greatly enjoying participating in an energetic and sociable sport, of particular poignance given the ramifications of Covid. None of this would have been possible without our management team of Susie, Charlie & Andy, who have given up so much of their time to right the ship and provide a fine environment for our girls to enjoy. As the squad heads into the New Year, the club places on record its thanks for the selfless support and hard work of these individuals.

 

Though it is many years, it seems only yesterday that our U18s were thrilling us as U10s, and, as they mature and those memories fade a little, how fabulous it is to see the next generation coming through so beautifully! Today, our current U10 girls faced a tough away fixture against a spirited London Girls Development Academy, suffering the loss of star winger Lois and defensive linchpin Mya just prior to the fixture!

 

However, the Wood banded together and got straight down to business, when forward Kiella made a fine solo break, beating several defenders before slotting calmly past the keeper. The gifted Lottie then applied a super finish to a perfectly worked corner routine, before Kara the canon unleashed an unstoppable drive unerringly into the goal for a hat-trick of fine Wood goals!

 

The Wood's intensity to tackle and close down was very evident today with PoM Lucy particularly brilliant in her continued attempts to win the ball and drive the team forward, while at the back Ella & Theaya were at their very best repelling well worked opposition attacks throughout.

 

A day of great football from the girls then, which is something we've seen countless times already from this tremendous group of young footballers. With a bubbling sense of excitement, enthusiasm and potential in the squad, huge credit goes to our management team of Dave and Sarah, who have taken a little idea and turned it into an unparalleled success story. We look forward to their next instalment in 2021 and thank them for what is a wonderful effort and reference in how to bring happiness to youngsters.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #10

Posted on 12th December, 2020

Our U11 Boys are the Wood's hottest side just now, on a terrific streak made all the more amazing by the fact the team was only formed in the summer! They faced a good Alexandra Park side today in their last home game of 2020; an action packed match in testing conditions followed.

 

The lads started a little slowly and were put under pressure from the first whistle with the Park scoring a fine opener. The Wood regained composure at the back with skipper Hayden leading by example and the brilliant Caed making a unbelievable save to stop what looked a certain goal. Minutes later a corner whipped in by Julian broke to the feet of Joel who smashed the ball into the top corner! 

 

In the 2nd half the Wood started to dominate possession and more goals were sensed to arrive soon. The first came when the amazing Zain went on a slalom like run down the wing before finishing from a tight angle. This spurred the Wood on and the football started to flow. After some quick thinking from keeper Caed, Mackenzie was released down the left, where he skipped past one and slipped in Zain, who again finished with composure.

The last goal was something to behold! Super work from Julian down the right saw him produce a phenomenal cross that fell to the feet of Mackenzie. He found Ethan who rolled it back for Zain to smash the ball home for an incredible hat trick.

 

The entire squad played really well today and several players pushed for MoM, but, after his goal scoring exploits and a lung busting effort that saw him cover every blade of grass, the irrepressible Zain secured the honour. Awesome!

 

After a flat showing last weekend, our U12 Boys trained very well in midweek and carried that into a lively game against Oakland Tigers today. The watchwords were hard graft and possession and the entire squad executed these to perfection, with the second half performance, in particular, easily the best seen from the boys thus far.

 

Marshall was excellent between the sticks and back to his best distributing the ball from the back, while Hones fitted into the left back position with consummate ease, keeping things tight at the back while bombing forward to great effect. McGuinness worked hard in centre midfield allowing his considerable technical skills to shine while George was in terrifying form on the right wing, slinging in a succession of quality crosses and shots.

 

MoM went to the electric Song who showed breathtaking speed and control to grab himself a very high quality hat trick, while Crucefix swivelled late on to find the stanchion unerringly. The squad displayed the full beauty and power of possession football today and the sodden Wood ultras in the stands chanted delightedly (but quite off tune) in appreciation before heading to the hut for a bacon roll bonanza!

 

Last but, certainly not least, our intrepid U10s tried their hearts out against a top Whetsone side today. The boys have the very best attitude to their football and performed with distinction in the nastiest weather, passing well and creating many fine chances. Luis bagged himself a terrific goal with a stunning shot and was also named MoM; well done young man. 

 

**

 

Our U10 Girls were at their very best today against a talented London Girls Development Academy side. The first half was played at a speedy pace with neither side able to find the net, but, the Wood faithful were thrilled with the quality of our possession football.

 

Second half saw Kara converting at the back post after fine dribbling and a cross from star winger Lois. The Wood's second came with an unstoppable rocket from the edge of the area after some Barcelonaesque interplay started in defence by Ella, played through Kara in the 10 position and popped off to Chloe, who struck like a cobra and also secured herself PoM. Wood pushed for a 3rd but were thwarted by stout defence from the opposition side despite many first class attempts.

 

Mya again showed off her full range of skill, pace and power today, breaking out of defence countless times and surging forward like a hot knife through butter. Ella was outstanding too, as was the adaptable Theaya, who replaced Emily in goal after she bravely gave it her best, despite not feeling 100%.

 

Manager Hobbs took time out of his busy schedule to speak briefly with Al Jazeera News immediately after the game. "The girls worked as a team allowing them to pressure effectively and make many opportunities. I'm delighted with their communication, attitude and progress and they make everyone at the club very proud." Here, here.

 

U18 Girls had high hopes going into their game against Garston Leopards but, a listless start saw the concession of three early goals that might have been kept out with a little more focus and energy. Despite this, the team were a constant threat going forward with Makamian in particularly good form, while Swain and Young had several excellent opportunities to score.

 

Second half saw Young stride through and show real composure before slotting simply into the net - a reference for the team going forward - while Kennedy-Millar showed determination and class to drive the ball into the top corner for our second.

 

Driven forward by the inexhaustible Embleton, the team came close to grabbing an equaliser whilst also trying to contain the opposition from adding a fourth; stand-in keeper Branigan making several outstanding saves throughout the half.

 

Despite a strong effort, the game finished 2-3, which was hard on the girls as they deserved more. However, there is great potential within this squad which will be unlocked fully once the finer details of positional play are absorbed. PoM went to Fernandez for her determined defending and the huge amount of energy she put in.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #9

Posted on 5th December, 2020

U11 Boys were in outstanding form today as they returned to action away against APB Raiders. The lads seemed up for it from the start and even warmed up really well!

 

The Wood went straight at it from the off with Joel scoring two early goals with assists from Zain and Julian. Julian got our third straight after, finishing calmly after Leon had ran half the length of the pitch. The always improving Mackenzie made a great pass for Julian to smash home his second, then setup another, this time for the very impressive Leon to finish in style. He added another two minutes later after Jack had a shot saved and cleared by the defence, finishing sumptuously after a top class dribble and deservedly securing himself MoM. 

 

Joel completed an excellent day's work by securing his hatrick with a stylish finish before Hayden added the cherry on the top with a last minute piledriver. With our defence very disciplined throughout, it was a simply fantastic performance from the boys; really well done!

 

U10 Boys faced a high quality Global Football Flamingos today and were in fine form with the entire squad enjoying excellent performances.

 

In goal, Charlie performed some spectacular saves first half while William and Luis made brilliant runs on goal at the other end. The good form continued second half with Aiden also pulling of some spectacular saves. The boys pulled together and started to fizz the ball about with Luis scoring with a humming shot after clever link-up play from Charlie and William. MoM went to Matei who showed real promise in defence and was chasing down everything that came at him. The squad showed a great team mentality today and the future looks very good.

 

U12 Boys played HMH Falcons away from home on a nice astro surface and after playing some good football first half, took the lead through Malcolm, who quickly latched on to a loose ball before blasting into the net for his first of the season. Having given themselves a good platform for the second half, the team inexplicably stopped controlling and passing the ball and inevitably conceded. Despite the best efforts of Hobbs to rouse the team and Makamian who continued to look for the pass throughout, the game finished a draw. Reed secured MoM after a very solid performance at the back.   

 

**

 

After lockdown 2.0, our ladies were back in action today and enjoyed a break in the recent rain to play some lovely stuff.

 

Our U10 Girls returned with a tough away match against Hemel Reds on an understandably  heavy pitch and in howling winds. This barely seemed to register though as they got straight on the scoresheet with Theaya embarking on a fine solo run before firing a long range howitzer firmly into the very top corner of the net; what a start!

 

The squad went on to create chance after chance with Lois, Hazel & Kara particularly influential but, just unable to secure a second valuable goal on this occasion. In a helter skelter period, the Wood relied on the impala like Emily in goal, springing about tirelessly to keep the Wood net safe and simultaneously securing herself PoM. Just in front of her, Mya marshalled the defence like a lighthouse in a storm, breaking up attacks and striding forward into midfield to set up counter attacks.

 

An excellent performance from the girls, especially given the enforced lack of activity this last month and with a vibrant, packed squad full of talented & energetic young footballers, this team is most definitely one to watch.

 

Meanwhile, our U18s faced a long journey over to a chilly Bury Rangers without having had any opportunity to train post lockdown. With that in mind, they performed very creditably.

 

A brilliant start saw the side push forward and take the lead from a fine shot from the ever dangerous Swain. Throughout the first half, all the girls worked hard creating lots of chances, with some excellent runs from Young who added to the scoresheet with a well taken finish. Embleton and Joseph showed great tenacity in midfield throughout making life difficult for the opposition, and both defence and midfield worked determinedly to stop the Bury attack.

 

As the match progressed, some of the team began to tire and the opposition found their way back into the game with some excellently taken long distance shots. Hyman was again magnificent in goal while PoM Branigan covered an enormous amount of the pitch in her roles in defence and midfield, showing great ball control and insightful passing before an amazing clearance off the line towards the end of the second half.

 

Despite the tiredness there were some great attacking runs with Coque, in particular, surging forward with the ball and supplying excellent crosses so nearly converted by the onrushing Shaw. A great effort from the squad who look forward eagerly to their next fixture.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #8

Posted on 31st October, 2020

Our U11 Boys are having a season to remember and played another excellent match at home today against a fine Croxley Green side.

 

The boys started really well and scored a cracking opener when Julian whipped in a corner that was met like a salmon by MoM Ethan, who sent the net billowing with a bullet header. The opposition then enjoyed a good period of play which saw keeper Caed make many breathtaking saves, one of which had the Fleet Street hacks in attendance rubbing their eyes in amazement!

A rousing team talk at half time saw the boys come out fired up and working really hard for each other. They turned on the style with Mackenzie playing some lovely stuff in midfield. A well worked free kick chipped in from Hayden was attacked by Zain who lobbed over the keeper with a class finish. Ethan, Julian, Zain and Lennon kept working very hard up and down the pitch with the forwards Jack, Leon and Joel closing down defenders all over the park.


The defence stood firm with Hayden, Stanley and the always impressive Josh winning every challenge. After another impressive tackle from Will the ball dropped to Zain who put Leon through with a great pass for our young star to finish off as cool as the proverbial cucumber. Fantastic entertainment and the watching staff were very impressed with the hunger shown by all the boys. First class.

 

Our U10s are very pleased to be welcoming new players to their team as their technical play continues to impress.  Today they faced a tough test against Borehamwood Youth but, responded really well with Klaudjo racing through to score a quite wonderful goal for the team.

 

New signing Yue has fitted into the squad really well and continued to impress today while William produced lots of hard running allied to excellent passing. Bailey, Shreyank & Aiden made surging runs up the wing from defence while keepers Charlie & Leo flung themselves about in goal, producing acrobatic saves that defied logic! MoM rightly went to Matei who worked so hard and gave it just about everything today. Well done young man.

 

After a perfect start in the League, U12 Boys worked hard but, were narrowly unable to keep their run going, suffering a 2-1 reverse against London Colney today.

 

The boys started really brightly knocking the ball around well but, were just unable to find the net on several occasions. George and Malcolm were full of dangerous intent on the wings and Hones showed calm composure at the back and the omens looked good. As luck would have it, a soft penalty was then conceded from one of the opposition's forays forward and the team found themselves behind.

 

As they've done so often already, the boys summoned great desire and scored an outstanding goal when Pop - playing a game of rare quality - received the ball from Malcolm, streaked down the pitch and then had the composure to fool the keeper and slide the ball into top scorer Crucefix, who smashed into the empty net for his 10th goal of what is already becoming an excellent season.

 

At 1-1 starting the second half, with the wind behind and the slope in their favour, the boys laid siege to the Colney goal but, were missing that clinical finish and with the opposition keeper in excellent form, conceded a break away goal that secured the points for Colney.

 

Lots of positives today with some excellent headed efforts on goal and some well worked moves also. MoM went to Hobbs who returned from absence last week to put in a very impressive performance in defence. Onwards and upwards!

 

__

 

 

Very wet and windy weather didn't deter our girls as they swam on to their pitches and played some sparkling football today.

 

U10 Girls faced tough and experienced opponents today away at Bedwell Rangers.

On a unfamiliar astro pitch amidst howling wind and rain the girls faced a barrage of attacks from their talented opposition but, battened down the hatches with keeper Emily springing about superbly like Zebedee!

 

Lois, enjoying a fine season, grabbed another super goal as she lashed into the net, followed by today's Captain & recent birthday girl - Lottie - banging in an incredible brace of top quality goals and securing PoM in the process.

Solid defending by Ella and Theaya (who bravely turned out despite a nagging hand injury) impressed the watching terraces and they were aided magnificently by a new Wood star - Chloe - who effortlessly stepped from defence to midfield and back again. What a fab performance from the girls!

 

Meanwhile, U18 Girls played Welwyn Pegasus in the League and excelled against a determined opposition. The squad played with good shape and discipline in defence with Turner impressing with her intelligent defending and Murray making a strong comeback after injury. Opposition strikes were capably dealt with by Hyman in goal while the Wood created many chances but weren’t quite able to stick them away at first. Embleton worked tirelessly in midfield to retrieve the ball and was awarded PoM, while the midfield combinations of Branigan, Makamian & Trainis made their way around the opposition with excellent paired passing.

 

The Wood eventually broke through with Swain first drilling in a well-placed missile and then Young going through one-on-one with the goalkeeper before finding the net effortlessly. After a fairly even period of play, Welwyn pulled a goal back with a long range shot before Swain grabbed her second with a classy finish that had the record Pursley crowd squealing with excitement from underneath their brollies.

 

The weather became even more atrocious and it was hard to see at times, particularly for the keepers but the girls kept on determinedly with Branigan swapping to goalkeeper and making a couple of top notch saves, and Hyman moving outfield for the last stanza where she defended excellently. The whole squad played with commitment and skill, enjoyed an excellent performance and grabbed three well earned points. Very well done indeed.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #7

Posted on 25th October, 2020

With our girls fixtureless, it was left to our boys to serve up the footballing entertainment this weekend. They didn't disappoint!

 

U12 Boys were in determined mood as they got back to League action, facing London Colney Panthers in an important fixture for the squad. Courage was the watch word of the day, both in the boys' attempts to attack balls in both boxes and in their efforts to control the ball and play, not always an easy assignment. On both counts they excelled, playing some of their best stuff this season.

 

Captain McGuiness led the team soundly against his old side and was joined in this by Manning, adding centre midfield to the growing list of positions he has played superbly this season. Crucefix enjoyed a special game both up front and in midfield and scored the Wood's first with a confident left foot drive. He gobbled up another before half time from a rebound after George had tested the away keeper well, with George himself grabbing our third with a shot straight from an artillery captain's trajectory chart.

Crucefix grabbed his second hatrick of the season when showing determination to get ahead of everyone else to fire into the top bag, before Song showed pace and composure to skip round the keeper and grab a high quality goal, his first for the club.

 

After six weeks out with a fractured radius, Makamian returned to the pitch amidst a rousing reception from the home support, who employed a selection of rudimentary pipes, drums and vuvuzelas to create an almost ethereal atmosphere. As luck would have it, a few moments later, Pop, enjoying a very accomplished game, split the away defence for Makamian to scamper between the last defender and keeper before burying the ball into the net.

All in all, a very welcome performance from the squad, and with many contenders, MoM went to Malcolm, after he focused really well, ran hard, ran direct and played easily his most influential game of the season.

 

U11 Boys faced a tough trip away to St. Albans City East but, remained unphased and put in a phenomenal performance to leave our travelling fanbase delighted!

 

Hayden grabbed our first goal after reacting well from a corner to swivel and fire high into the net while at the other end, he joined Stanley & Josh as they constructed a human wall to repel the opposition attacks. A late penalty saw us grab another as Julian slotted home and capped a wonderful day for the squad and for him personally too, as he was rightly named MoM for another top notch, non-stop performance.

 

U10 Boys rounded off the action against a talented Maccabi Gold side at Pursley but, showed great resolve throughout their match with many of the squad putting in excellent displays.

 

In defence and midfield, MoM Bailey and Aiden were vocal, tenacious and showed a wonderful range of passing while Leo and Charlie excelled both in goal and outfield.

Debutant Yue crashed a wicked shot of the crossbar then played a sliderule pass to Shreyank. He completed a wonderful dribble before passing the ball beautifully into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Christian and Klaudjo worked their socks off and showed a willingness & desire to keep at it, never giving up.

 

Great to see and the club are very proud of all our fantastic young players.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #6

Posted on 17th October, 2020

U11 Boys have been in outstanding form this season and continued by thumping in four of the best against an excellent London Colney Lions today at Pursley.

 

The impressive Lennon drilled home the first with a sweetly struck shot, before Zain waded in with two beautifully finished efforts that savaged the Pursley nets. Joel added a fourth in what is fast becoming a very productive season for him, while Josh scooped MoM, putting on a display of energy and endeavour that was warmly applauded by the Wood's massed ranks.

 

After only forming just prior to the season starting, this team has exceeded all expectations already and we look forward to following their footballing adventures with great anticipation.

 

Also, in excellent form, our U10 Boys faced a tough test in the local derby against Borehamwood Youth Templars. The match was a brilliant advert for the local game with the whole squad putting in a spirited shift. As he so often does, Dragos was deadly in front of goal and bagged yet another as he curled the ball home expertly, while Bailey picked up MoM after a performance that saw him run hard throughout and defend quite superbly.

 

After a great start in their league, U12 Boys faced a tough examination away against AC Finchley East in the Junior League Cup.

 

The boys needed to start fast but, instead started slowly and failed several times to clear a cross; this eventually fell to an attacker who volleyed into the top corner. The Wood rallied well and could have equalised late in the half, Montgomery feeding a lovely ball into the hard working Manning but, his smart shot was parried to safety by the keeper. Despite an excellent performance from Ifeacho at the back, the team were unable to prevent the opposition from further long shots, two of which found the net and when no one was able to get on another excellent cross from Montgomery late in the match, the writing was on the wall. MoM went to Song for a very lively wing display, showing huge potential for the future.

 

In a late twist, coach Makamian was sent to the stands after very politely querying one or two of the ref's decisions. Given there were no stands, he grabbed his bag of balls and walked confusedly around the local vicinity for a while before finding a small hillock to sit down on and reflect that you're never too old to learn!

___

 

U10 Girls were first out the blocks today and put in a sparkling performance at home against the fearsome sounding Garston Ladies Tigers.

 

The two teams were very evenly matched with much exciting goal mouth action at both ends but, with no one quite able to find the net. Emily, in the process of becoming a specialist keeper enjoyed another outstanding performance between the sticks, and with PoM Theaya also excelling in defence, together repelled the opposition's raids. In midfield, Lucy and Chloe worked tirelessly breaking up attack after attack while still having plenty left to launch our own moves up field.

 

Late in the match, a superb Wood play saw the impressive Lois and Kiella link up wonderfully and bear down on the Garston goal, only to see a superb last ditch clearance catch the wind and sail all the way into our goal! That's how it goes sometimes, but, our girls got straight back on with it and all the parents agreed it was a fine performance and a great advert for girls' football.

 

After a quick trip to make-up, coach Sarah was interviewed by Alan Carr after the match and asked for her thoughts on the team's efforts today. She replied, "Many of our girls have only been playing the game for a short while, but, their energy, team spirit & togetherness is already taking them very far. The future is so bright for these young footballers." You just can't argue with that.

 

After their heroics last match, our U18s took on a very good, academy style Watford Ladies side away today. As feared, the first half saw the concession of quite a few goals - nine in total - with the rapid opposition strikers in deadly form.

However, this squad has backbone and after being challenged by our management team to react positively second half, they went out and did just that, improving immeasurably in the process.

After wriggling around like a snake, Shaw was bundled over in the opposition box and Branigan stepped up to cooly dispatch the resulting penalty kick for her first of the season. In midfield, Trainis and Adesanya impressed hugely on their Wood debuts while PoM went to Hyman after she again performed to the highest levels, both in goal and on the pitch.

 

Late goals saw the team finish the second half just 3-1 down, this against a very good side who were likely looking to better their first half goal scoring feats. However, football's a funny ol' game and after transforming their fortunes, the Wood go into the next match full of confidence.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #5

Posted on 10th October, 2020

After our girls’ heroics on super Saturday, our boys followed things up brilliantly on a vintage Sunday, recording three fantastic performances at home.

 

Our U10s are going along very nicely indeed and faced a good Enfield Rangers today. The boys got straight into the goals, with Shreyank, in the midst of some extremely hot form, finding the net twice with calmly taken finishes. William was in sparkling form, dictating the play well, before Dragos banged in another goal soon after, striking firmly before scooping MoM after a wing clinic that saw countless dangerous crosses supplied. At the other end, our defence was strong and focused, with Aiden, Claudio & Matei producing excellent displays and fearlessly throwing themselves in front of the opposition players to thwart their goalscoring attempts.

 

In a massive Borehamwood derby, our U11s took on a handy Borehamwood Youth Crusaders side in a fantastic advert for football in the town. Our boys were in the very best of form with the mega talented Julian blasting in two excellent goals, matched by the equally impressive Zain, himself grabbing a beautifully constructed brace.

The entire squad revelled in the atmosphere and excelled with the energetic Josh in particular enjoying a fine match, while Hayden was named MoM after a consumate display that showed great leadership skills. A super job from all the boys and from Craig and Sam, their excellent management team.

 

With cup action up next weekend, our U12 Boys were looking to seal a good start to the League season with maximum points against Alexandra Park West. The teams faced each other just last Sunday but after losing that match, our opponents were very much up for it and took the lead midway through the first half after starting the game with more intent than the Wood could muster. However, as he often does, Manning came to the team’s rescue, robbing the away defence just before half time and despatching a rocket firmly into the top bag for his third of the season.

The momentum of the game swung and debutant Song enjoyed a fine cameo on the right of midfield before succumbing to injury. Thereafter, MoM Pop, coming right back into his best form won the ball in midfield and fed Manning. He turned provider and slipped in George, who, after enjoying an excellent game and causing all sorts of problems with his pace and direct running, slotted the ball home beautifully for our second and his third of the season also.

With the consistently excellent Hones marshalling the defence superbly at the back, the boys saw the match out and sit atop the division, with the challenge in future weeks being to stay there. Very well done.

 

+++

 

After the rain last week, our U18 Girls played in the dry this weekend, but, faced a stiff challenge from a strong Harpenden Colts side at Pursley.

 

Despite playing some excellent football, the Wood were unable to score in the early parts of the match and went down by three goals, the last of which was a penalty rebound; Manning saving brilliantly first time round. Heads did not drop though and the squad fought for each other and encouraged themselves to greater things and this spirited attitude saw the team grab two goals back before half time, the outstanding Young proving too strong as she drilled the ball into the stanchion once, and then twice.

 

The team came out for the second half very buoyant and in a crazy half of football, Swain, raiding down the right like a Viking, scored an amazing, high quality hatrick, while Young grabbed a further two, testing breaking point in the newly installed 4mm nets, when the old 3mm models would surely have snapped! Joseph slalomed through calmly to cap the scoring at 8, with many of the Wood's mobile fanbase losing their false teeth as mouths hung open in wonder and awe.

 

The match ended a barmy 8-5, with the team's midfield and defensive players enjoying equally impressive performances. Branigan was back to her best, tenacious in the duels then imperious with her passing, while Kennedy-Millar enjoyed a truly outstanding game, refusing to be beaten and sticking her swede bravely and effectively on cross after cross. Hyman was superb on the pitch then sacrificed her own personal ambitions to replace the injured Manning in goal and play that position to a very high standard; the type of selfless act that often gets remembered when the votes are cast at the end of every season.

Not to be outdone, Embleton covered every blade of grass, showing an incredible level of commitment and fitness, while Luckhurst, Knight & Shaw all enjoyed very solid games as did captain Rodrigues. Though leaving the field through injury, Fordham also made a very telling contribution during an excellent spell at left back.

 

Managers' Clarke and Branigan made shrewd tactical moves throughout and were delighted with the squad's performance, the former quoted by BBC Sport afterwards as saying ' the girls done good.' Exactly. To cap proceedings off, Makamian was named PoM after passing the ball like the Wood's own Xavi and covering diligently too; well done that lady! What an amazing day for our senior side and one that won't be forgotten for many a year.

 

At the other end of the age scale and also against Harpenden Colts, our mini warriors in the U10 Girls gave a first class account of themselves, this against a very experienced and talented side.

 

The first stanza was competitive with the ball finding the midfield areas regularly, resulting in half chances for both teams in difficult conditions. As the game progressed, the Wood showed great resolve before twinkle toed Lois completed an amazing dribble that saw her beat three opposition defenders before calmly firing home our first. Thereafter, Kara showed tremendous determination to ram home a second, with Lois on hand to bury her second of the game.

At the other end, the Wood's defence was admirably marshalled by Ella, Mya, Theaya & Lottie, with Flo patrolling assuredly in front of them. Anything getting past this super bunch, was swallowed up expertly by birthday girl Emily, receiving PoM after flinging herself around like a human ping pong ball!

 

All in all, the girls played a wonderful match and manager Dave was delighted with their efforts. "The squad has trained so well over summer, I couldn't be happier with them. A special mention to Lola on her long awaited return from injury and for Florence who, in only her third ever game, was just so reliable in midfield." Words of wisdom indeed, and with that, he headed back to the car for a well deserved nap!

20/21 The Word in the Wood #4

Posted on 3rd October, 2020

As the heavens continued to open through Saturday night and Sunday morning, the latest round of fixtures in the boys' leagues were washed out, unfortunately including our U11 Boys' match. U12 Boys' fixture away to Alexandra Park West was going the same way before APW manager Fred pulled a rabbit out the hat and managed to book an astro at short notice, allowing this top of the table clash to go ahead. Well done that man and no doubt Fred was right and Right Said Fred.

 

Anyway, once the corny gags were safely out the way, the full terraces watched a frantic, action packed encounter with oohs and aahs ringing out like Centre Court at Wimbledon. The deadlock was broken with an excellent move that saw Hobbs work a precise ball down the line to Crucefix, who whipped in a deadly cross that Manning converted with style. Soon after, the excellent McGuinness also swung in a lovely cross, this time seeing top scorer Crucefix pounce for his 5th in two games. MoM McGuiness then buzzed the away keeper with an audacious lofted shot which was just parried away and had baby brother and his number one fan spitting out the dummy in frustration.

With Captain Hones and Reed excelling in defence, Marshall keeping focus really well between the sticks and Pop returning to his best form too, the squad continued to perform well, ultimately securing the three points and a very welcome clean sheet. Awesome job!

 

Meanwhile, our U10 Boys opposition also provided an astro and despite the vile conditions, the lads turned it on with big Dragos helping himself to a sparkling brace and continuing his fine run of scoring form. MoM went to Aiden for his brilliant defensive play and pinpoint passing, the latter setting up many of the team's attacks. A great effort from our young warriors and with such endeavour, expect big things from this team in the future.

  

+++

 

After waiting since March for a competitive game, the HGFPL U18 Girls season finally kicked off today amidst a monsoon so wet, even the local dolphins and tuna were heading indoors. No surprise then that our opponents - Garston Ladies Lionesses - reported a waterlogged pitch but, after some intense negotiations that saw our groundstaff spring into action like the Middle Age Mutant Ninja Turtles, the game was switched and a warm Wood welcome extended to the Garston team, with a fine surface presented for both sets of players to enjoy.

 

With an age gap of three years in many cases and several of our opponents already playing adult first team football, the Wood knew it would be tough going but, matters were not helped by an early lack of focus that saw the concession of a goal within the opening seconds. Thereafter, the squad engaged really well and played some wonderful football, competing fiercely for everything. Swain, enjoying a solid game, grabbed our first after her corner was deflected in, while Young scored a memorable second, curling high into the stanchion and sending the massed ranks of fans, and their dogs, quite delirious. With excellent defensive displays from Turner, Kennedy-Millar & Hyman, the team ended the half very respectably at just 4-2 down. Second half proved hard and some positional lapses allied to good play from our more experienced opponents saw the concession of further goals despite a hard working cameo from Knight. However, the squad's attitude remained very positive and we all look forward eagerly to the next match.

Rodrigues captained the side, put in a superb performance and was deservedly named PoM. Very well done.

 

Though scheduled to play, the conditions were just too horrid to subject our U10 Girls to, so instead, they booked themselves into Dubai's Burj Khalifa and enjoyed some warm weather training ahead of next weekend's action.

20/21 The Word in the Wood #3

Posted on 26th September, 2020

After missing out on all the fun last week, our U10 Boys returned to action in style this weekend, scoring an incredible eight goals in a vintage performance away to Croxley Green Whites.
The team's passing, tactical awareness and energy levels were perfect and provided the platform for Dragos to bang in an incredible four of the best, with Klaudjo, Charlie and Shreyank (2) also making the scoresheet with some fine finishing. At the other end, Aiden (& Charlie too once he'd finished scoring) were flinging themselves around like human cats, making multiple breathtaking saves!
MoM went to Shreyank who not only grabbed a brace but, produced a passing performance of true vision. Very well done.

U11 Boys just can't stop scoring and hurled in another four at home today against Pro Football London.
First up was brave-heart Lennon, mercilessly burying a nicely floated corner from the outstanding Julian (a boy who can seemingly outrun the Duracell Bunny), before the impressive Josh started a fabulous team move that ended with Zain crashing the ball home. Thereafter, the lively Joel turned it on, scoring two outstanding individual goals and adding to an impressive season's tally already.
At the back, the inspired Caed produced tremendous save after save and greatly improved his starting position as the game wore on, allowing him to calmly intercept opposition balls over the Wood defence. Hayden proved a rock at centre back and was amply aided by the diligent Flynn & Stanley, particularly as the game wore on. However, MoM was secured by the outstanding Will, who followed team instructions to the letter, grew quickly into his left back position and ended up producing a display of the very highest calibre. Super stuff.

U12 Boys played away at Maccabi Yellow trying to keep their perfect start to the season going. The boys looked strong but, struggled to pass the ball crisply or find the finish need to get their noses in front. The manager prayed for divine intervention and it came in the form of a Crucefix, as our rampaging attacker hurled himself bravely to head the ball into the net. Not content with this, he then smashed in three more goals all of which showed a very high level of technical skill and secured him as MoM.

As the action warmed up, Hobbs made a lung busting run down the length of the pitch only to see his long range shot cannon of the crossbar. Following on and after raising his game massively in the second half, McGuinness strolled up to a free kick and swerved it into the top bag for a goal of the season contender, then won a penalty that was unluckily crashed against the crossbar by Captain Hones.
The goal scoring action was completed by Ifeacho, who found the stanchion from seemingly hundreds of yards out and with a shot that resembled a Tomahawk missile in flight, while at the other end, Marshall was unlucky after making a fine attempt to keep out a late opposition penalty.
All in all, an excellent day's work, but, with tough games ahead, the boys will be looking to improve their focus and passing that little bit extra as they strive for honours.

*********************************************************************

 

The Wood's U10 Girls' season finally started today and our little heroines put on a breathless display away against a fine Garston Wildcats side. With many new players making their League debut, the squad went about their business with great energy and a desire throughout to never give up, despite facing some impressive form from the opposition. Amongst the highlights, Kiella & Hazel made many penetrating runs from midfield, while Lucy, Chloe & Florence produced fearless tackles and passed the ball expertly. Emily looked a natural in goal with another 'old' girl Kara deservedly picking up PoM with an awesome box to box display that saw a wonderful range of incisive passing.

 

Just across the way, our U18 Girls were playing a final friendly against Garston Jaguars, and it seems like only yesterday when they were playing at U10 themselves! After seeing our two older squads moulded into one over the summer, the loyal Wood legions were delighted to witness an excellent performance with all 15 players in attendance making really positive contributions.

Swain created the opener from a wicked corner that was attacked bravely by Rodrigues; her reward seeing the net bulge and gaining that unique feeling only a goalscorer gets! The team were attacking really well with Coque & Joseph combining effectively down the right flank throughout and Hyman bossing centre midfield by attacking the ball first, time after time. However, some positional lapses saw the hosts gain a 2-1 lead despite the heroics of Manning in goal and excellent individual performances at the back from all our defensive players.

The 2nd half saw a finely balanced affair with Makamian retaining possession well and both Shaw, Embleton & Fordham putting in super, no nonsense performances. Just prior to the final whistle, the ever dangerous Swain received the ball wide of the penalty box and slalomed in before despatching a knuckle ball past the helpless opposition keeper. In many observers' opinions, a draw was the very least the team deserved.

In truth, every player performed highly today and though the season will be tough at times, with many older, experienced sides to play, the girls put on a very hardworking display that bodes supremely well for the future. With an excellent staff of talented, dedicated individuals with a variety of attributes too, the Wood faithful are looking forward to the start of the season with great anticipation!

20/21 The Word in the Wood #2

Posted on 20th September, 2020

U12 Boys hosted Whestone Leopards in a keenly fought match at a sunny Pursley today. The hot gossip pre-match was that Wood stalwart Makamian would be sidelined for some weeks with a fractured wrist, the result of a particularly devious rugby ball.

With their stricken buddy in mind, the boys attacked fiercely and secured a fine opener when Manning pulled back from an acute angle for the onrushing George to sweep home crisply. McGuiness was pulling the strings nicely in midfield only for the team to unexpectedly concede a couple of soft goals. However, the boys summoned great willpower to find an equalizer when Manning, enjoying a fine match, latched on to a loose ball to calmly find the bottom corner. A draw seemed imminent but, Pop had other ideas as he made a couple of fierce tackles to setup Manning, his goal bound shot being hammered in by the impressive George. Krakatoa erupted less than the home support then and Mary in the Tea Hut started handing our free bacon rolls to all and sundry, such was the spirit of elation.

On getting home, the boys realised their fine performance moved them to the peak of the Yellow division, ample reward for an excellent effort. MoM was picked up by Montgomery, who worked very hard throughout and played some lovely stuff while Reed, Hones & Hobbs also enjoyed stand out performances at the back.

 

After an excellent performance last weekend, our U11 Boys played a talented London Colney Lions away today. The hosts started well with the finely sprung Caed making two outstanding saves early doors before a well worked counter saw Jack pull off a remarkable, high tariff Rebona for his first ever Wood goal.

The team moved into overdrive then with the eel like Leon wriggling through the opposition defence to grab two fine goals, while top scorer Julian banged in a beauty of his own. Fast making a name for himself, Joel smashed in his fourth of the season shortly after before Caed almost pulled off a super save from a penalty late on.

Another exceptional performance from the boys with MoM going to Zain after he controlled the game for long periods and a special mention for Will also, who worked tirelessly for the team throughout. Very well done.

 

In the final fixture, our U10 Boys match was called off unfortunately but, they return next week rested and raring to go!