The Word In The Wood

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21/22 The Word in the Wood #32

Posted on 15th May, 2022

U13 Boys finished off their season in style with a 3-1 victory at home to Alexandra Park South. With a number of injuries, the 11 in attendance took to the field and played well from the start, probing the AP defence but, unable to put away a number of early opportunities.

 

After Marshall had made an important saving tackle down one end, the ball was played upfield to be picked up by Makamian. He shimmied round one defender before letting fly from outside the box; his sumptous strike flying into the right hand top corner to give the Wood a 1-0 lead at half time.

 

The team started very sharply second half and after a superb blocking tackle by Manning, Ifeacho was on hand in a flash to whip the ball superbly, low and unerring into the bottom right corner. After the concession of a very cheap goal, Ifeacho then raced through to bury another for his brace, settling the game and finishing the season as top scorer with 16 goals. At the back, Captain Hobbs was in imperious form, dominating both in the air and in the tackle, and securing MoM in the process.

 

With just one loss in their last 13 matches, the boys have finished the season strongly and now go straight into a number of very testing friendly matches against top level WFL, West Herts Premier & EJA opposition as well as a couple of very competitive small sided competitions. Where they go from here will be decided by their desire and hunger to kick on but, there is no doubt in the huge potential within this squad; with the right attitude to fitness & training, things for them could get very interesting indeed.

 

 

Meanwhile, our wonderful U11 Boys recorded another great performance against AC Finchley North.

 

Ethan was a star playing in goal for the first half as Luca was sadly unwell. Yue, Matei, Audley and William in defence were all absolutely flawless, while the shots were raining in on goal with Aiden in centre midfield, Jayden on his left, Klawdjo on his right and Bailey playing as a lone striker. They passed the ball brilliantly and created at least six great chances in the first half.

 

Second half, Yue took to goal and Ethan sat firm in defence while Shreyank took a place in midfield. Aiden shot true and straight for the Wood's first goal before Klawdjo crossed a corner in that took a deflection into the net. Shortly after, Shreyank banged home the last goal with some nifty footwork in the area.

 

A brilliant game from all the lads with William securing MoM for his skill and reading of the ball throughout the game. One more match at home next week then the squad will focus on competitive football in 22/23. These guys are very talented and with Jamie and Greg's expert coaching and guidance, everyone at the club can't wait to see them in action then!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #31

Posted on 8th May, 2022

Having lost just 1 of their last 11 league matches, U13 Boys are finishing off the season very strongly and secured another three points today with an excellent performance away to Edgware.

 

Pre-match, the talk was of exerting more control on their matches by retaining the ball a little better and showing more composure in possession. On a first class, full size pitch, the boys executed the plan superbly knocking it around very well indeed and creating good chances from the off.

 

In centre midfield, Montgomery and Manning were in particularly fine form winning the ball repeatedly then playing simply and effectively and it wasn't long before one such pass into the rejuvenated Ifeacho, saw the award of a Wood free kick. MoM Hones stepped up from the back confidently and sent his shot crashing into the net to put his team 0-1 up.

 

Captain Makamian enjoyed a super match, constantly threatening up front and on the wing and he slammed home a left foot volley after Ifeacho had streaked down the line and delivered a pinpoint cross. Ifeacho was then denied the goal his play deserved after one of several contentious offside decisions ruled out an excellent run and finish.

 

The boys were rampant and Hobbs personified the excellent spirit on show, literally sacrificing blood and tears for the cause in an impressive display of resolve and courage while Reed slalomed through to cannon a bazooka shot agonisingly off the crossbar.

 

After a run of four clean sheets in five matches, the Wood were well on their way to another shut out but, inexplicably crazy play at the back presented Edgware with a late equaliser and served as a reminder that you just can't take anything for granted in this game. However, the Wood secured the points and really did play very well ahead of their last match of the season next Sunday.

21/22 The Word in the Wood #30

Posted on 30th April, 2022

Freshly promoted, our U12 boys played with style today and delivered their best performance of the season vs Alyth Belsize.

 

The first goal was from a corner taken by Staszewski and headed in like a rocket from Mill. The Wood jumped on their opposition and the impressive Mill then turned provider with a great ball to Adoma who finished well for his 30th of the season while Rocha was denied on a couple of occasions after some neat link up play by Alyth’s keeper; it remained 2 0 at half time.

 

Parratt replaced the impressive Hebblethwaite at half time and was straight into the action with a fantastic 20 yard strike into the top corner to make it 3-0, followed by mass celebrations by all, even the keeper! Joyce was inches from a certain goal of the season contender minutes later, following a clearance from a corner; he met the ball from 20 yards on the half volley and struck the post.

 

Staszewski hadn’t finished for the day and added one that was just too powerful for the keeper and with minutes to go he added his second and also his 30th of the season with an unbelievable left footed strike that rattled in off the post. A great 5 0 win but, man of the match went to the ever impressive Adom who has turned into a man mountain at the back. It is a pleasure watching the partnership he and Gardiner are creating in the heart of defence. Class stuff from all involved today.

 

 

*

 

U18 Girls gave it their all but, came up just short in the Shield semi-final today against Garston Leopards.

 

The girls started really well, knocking the ball around confidently and took the lead early with a fantastic goal. PoM Tulloch won the ball in midfield and played an excellent ball to Umalin. She drove forward and whipped in a super cross that was finished in style by top scorer Hodges. At this stage there looked only one winner, however, Garston showed great energy and desire to fight their way back into the match and deservedly equalised before sealing the tie on penalties.

 

There ends the Wood's campaign and though it would've been nice to contest a final, it does not define the season. Instead, with a huge squad of 16 in what was their last game ever, the girls have improved massively and learnt much, conducted themselves admirably and forged amazing bonds and friendships with each other. The ethos within the squad could not be better and their support of each other today and throughout the season has been fantastic and that is what really matters.

 

Many of them will now go on to seniors' football or indeed other pursuits but, they've all learnt so many positive things from their football experiences as well as keeping nice and healthy! You can't ask for more than that and we wish them all the best of luck going forward, wherever their path may take them.

 

Coach Branigan and Manager Makamian have been involved in the girls' game for many years and now that is at an end, they put out a joint statement to Sky News shortly after the game. They said, "These girls have been a huge credit to themselves and the Club all season and are made of the very finest stuff. We wish them all the best of luck going forward and will take great pride in seeing and hearing of their adventures and achievements hereafter and you can be sure, there will be many!"

 

Here here, and the Club lauds the outstanding Susie for everything she has done for us. 

 

 

As the U18s juniors' odyssey ends, U11 Girls competitive journey is just beginning. Today they travelled for a derby match against Maccabi London Lions in what was their final, official 7aside game. Maccabi are a very well organised and resilient team who where always going to be tough opposition today. The match was a barnstorming, ding-dong affair with goals a plenty on both sides.

 

Two more goals for star winger Lois took her tally to 34 and her contemporary on the other side - Captain Elsie - who ran her socks off today grabbed a brace also, taking her tally to 18 for the season. Hazel didn’t get on the scoresheet today but setup three goals for her teammates, proving how her game is evolving from just an out an out goal scorer. She secured POM for her team ethic and sacrifice.

 

Kara created many chances for her teammates with her inspired and unselfish team play, Kara has been on fire recently in training and her performances make you forget she is playing up a year! The midfield was patrolled today by Olympian Lucy who is a coaches dream with her skill and hard running, Lucy has elevated her game this year adding tricks, turns and more goals to her already dominant displays.

 

Amie took her game to another level this morning and showed her skill, power, eye for a pass and composure today in a complete and dominant midfield performance; she is one to watch for the future. Defensive titans Annie and Kiella had their work cut out today against a good Lions attack and the girls made many important interceptions and tackles, they also showed growing maturity and understanding of the game by launching numerous attacks.

 

Emily had another great game between the sticks and couldn’t have done much for any of the goals and you just have to applaud great skill at times, while Theaya - injured and unable to play outfield - still attended the game as keeper cover. What great team spirit from this formidable young lady.

 

Manager Hobbs wrapped it all up with an after match interview with Terry Wogan. He said, "This season has been a terrific adventure and the girls an absolute pleasure to manage. The team produced sparkling and outstanding football throughout. We have played teams more advanced than us and held our own so the sky's the limit for this squad and next season in 9aside football can’t come quick enough! I must also thank my lovely wife - Sarah - who does so much good work in the background for the team and our Club."

 

You just can't argue with that and the Club salutes them both!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #29

Posted on 23rd April, 2022

The club are thrilled to announce our U12 Boys today secured promotion from the Yellow division with a thumping 2-5 victory away against Alexandra Park South! This is a huge achievement for Craig, Sam and the boys in their first competitive season!!

 

An early setback saw the Wood go behind to an unfortunate own goal before Adoma crossed for Rocha to equalise with style. Staszewski fired home to make it 1-2 just before half time and added his 23rd of an incredible season the other side of the break.

 

Fowler then produced a sublime through ball for Gardiner to skillfully make it 1-4, before a penalty saw the Park pull one back. However, Adoma had the last word with a stunner to make it 24 for the season for him and a final score of 2-5 . This cued scenes of joy as the boys celebrated a promotion bonaza!!

 

Man of the match went to the irrepressible Joyce, whose legs never stopped moving and enjoyed a brilliant, disciplined game in midfield with coolness on the ball and bite in the tackle. At the same time, Parratt provided fantastic delivery into the box throughout the match and the centre back partnership of Adom and Gardiner continues to impress with the former also hitting the post from 30 yards, which is probably still shaking now!

 

Having sealed promotion, the boys wait to learn of results elsewhere which could mean winning their last two games to secure the League title too. Everything crossed for that but, let's first savour a huge achievement from these fine, young Wood stars!

 

 

U13 Boys have been finishing their league season really strongly with just one loss in their last 10 matches and were looking forward to a cracking fixture away against London Colney Tigers today. Unfortunately, their opponents could only provide the same 9aside pitch and goals used at U11 & U12, rather ruining the spectacle and enjoyment of both players and parents. That the appropriate facilities were available at Pursley made things doubly frustrating.

 

The game ended 0-0, which was not a surprise given the circumstances though Makamian scored a tremendous volleyed goal after a stunning pick out from McGuinness only to see a  late flag deny the effort. At the other end, the defensive unit of Marshall, Hones, Hobbs & Pop continued their excellent work with a fourth clean sheet in five games with keeper & Captain Marshall securing MoM and continuing his recent fine form.  

 

The lads next play away against Edgware and hope to be back to an 11aside pitch and goals then.

 

 

*

 

The Wood's Girls' section is buzzing at the moment, with the U18 Girls today drawing Garston Leopards away in the semi-final of the League Shield, to be played next Saturday. After many years together, the team is coming to it's natural end but, could they go out in style with a Cup final; only these incredible young women know!

 

At the other end of the spectrum our U11 Girls are closing off an excellent season and have a packed off season planned to ready them for competitive football in 22/23. They are sooooo excited about that! Today the girls welcomed a fine Stevanage Starlets side to Pursley after the Easter break.

 

It was a tense opening 10 minutes before the Wood scored through Elsie with her 1st of 4 cracking goals today in an outstanding POM performance. Starlets were in excellent goal-scoring form themselves but the Wood's stout defence learnt quickly and began to close the door on our travelling opponents glittering attack.

 

Star winger & Captain Lois was soon to get involved and tapped in at the back post after a smart cross from Romey. Lottie was causing problems all day for the Starlets with her late runs into the box and her eye for a killer pass almost lead to another for Lois. Hazel almost broke the opposition goalie in two at one point with one of her ferocious drives, it was just stopped on the line by the brave Starlets keeper.

 

Hazel’s build up and inter play with her teammates is getting better and better and she released Karadonnna on numerous occasions for her to then cause havoc; Kara rattled the defence every time she got on the ball. Meanwhile, Elsie was unplayable and her finishing and cross field balls where a sight to behold! She soon got another two goals and also released Lottie with one sublime pass threaded between the defence, while her 4th was a wonder goal, cutting in from the left onto her right boot she then cut again and slipped two defenders, then unleashed an unstoppable shot back across the keeper and into the bottom corner.

 

🙏

Lois saved her best till last and she beat two defenders before unleashing the kraken into the top corner of the goal. The Midfield engine room was covered by Olympic standard running and tackling by super star Lucy who also bagged a goal after running half the pitch and beating three players and the keeper! Amie patrolled the midfield and let no one past and her composure and slide rule passing is getting better weekly, while Amie was also unlucky not to get on the scoresheet today.

 

Annie and Ella had there normal 9 out of 10 games which is just standard for these super young players. Kiella and Ella also at the back took the fight to the Starlets with defensive steel and attacking prowess. Between the sticks, Emily stayed focused and closed out many Starlets attacks behind her defence, her big kicks also setting up numerous attacks.

 

All in all, it was a really great display from the girls and a cracking game of footie! 

21/22 The Word in the Wood #28

Posted on 9th April, 2022

U12 Boys are driving on towards their twin aims of promotion and the League Championship and travelled away to Southgate Dragons to play a key match against a team with similar ambitions.

 

2000 had a clear plan to play football and be patient but, this was disrupted when the hosts took the lead, however, the lads knew that by playing their passing game and remaining patient the chances would come. The Wood kept pushing and were rewarded when Evans drilled home the ball at the back post just before half time.

 

The Wood knew they had to remain calm, match their opponent's effort and the skill would shine through. It did exactly that in the second half, Parratt whipped in a great cross from a corner for the other full back Mill to finish with a sublime left footed volley. After quick thinking from Parratt to find Adoma in space, the Wood hotshot scored his 28th of the season to put the game to bed.

 

The cherry on the top came in the form of a well deserved goal for Staszewski who finished well from another Parratt corner for his 27th of the season, gaining MoM in what is becoming a virtuoso season!

All in all a very professional performance from the sqaud to get the job done. Their title bid is alive and kicking and they are up to second place with Alexandra Park South next up in the quest for glory!

 

 

U13 Boys faced a tough test at home to a physically imposing Hinton & Finchley Legends, currently sitting 2nd in the table. However, the boys are improving quickly themselves and went into the match with much self belief.

 

The game was played at a very high tempo with little time to dwell on the ball and tackles crashing in all over the park, concentration and focus were vital. Playing up the slope, the boys worked hard across the board to contest everything though were perhaps fortunate not to concede after slack marking from corners. Thereafter, sharp thinking from keeper Marshall saw him deliver a penetrating long ball. Oswald held off the away defenders well  to allow Sunkara to dash forward, riding a certain foul before hammering the ball into the net, sending the Wood in 1-0 at half time.

 

The second half started with a freak, extremely painful injury to Sunkara, who appeared to dislocate his thumb. He stayed incredibly calm and bravely went of to A&E, having left a big mark on the match nevertheless. Looking to continue the excellent work he'd inspired, his team-mates played on at a very high level indeed with the keeper and defence focused and solid, the midfield trident led by Captain Montgomery contesting everything, the strikers full of vim and the wingers in Song and Malcolm threatening and focused throughout, the latter securing MoM in his most complete performance yet.

 

The boys saw out the match, recording their second successive 1-0 win and seasoned Wood watchers concluded that this was certainly one of their best performances, ever. With further points to be won in the League and big summer tournaments to attend, these are very exciting times for a squad that is moving forward inexorably. 

 

 

*

 

U18 Girls took to the field far away against Sarratt Rebels in the Shield knowing only a win would be enough to propel them into the semi finals.

 

A fast start was required to quiet down the massed ranks of home support but, the girls found it difficult to find the energy to compete in the opening stanzas and it was left to the defence and keeper Hyman to repel countless Sarratt attacks and shots on goal.

 

In attack, chances began to arrive but, failed to find the net as the Wood were either caught offside or lacking composure. Fordham did break through to produce a fine effort after a super ball from Pickford; the Sarratt keeper saving smartly.

 

Captain & PoM Warren had seen enough and after exchanging passes with Makamian produced a sublime finish from distance that would have graced any pitch in the land, thus the Wood went in at half time with a precious lead but, knowing another lethargic start to the half could cost them dear.

 

However, as is so often the case with these girls when challenged, the squad went out and produced a vintage half of football, on the front foot from the off with desire and intent in abundance and it wasn't long before Branigan swooped to calmly slot home for her 3rd goal in two matches. With Rodrgiues and Tulloch dominating aerially and Hooda and Pickford raiding down the wings, the girls took the game to Sarratt and could have scored multiple further goals.

 

However, a seemingly innocuous moment with ten minutes left saw Sarratt secure a goal and there were some hairy moments in the closing moments before the ref blew up and the match was won. It was a great effort from one and all and the team extend their season with an exciting semi final opportunity to savour at the end of the month!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #27

Posted on 2nd April, 2022

Our U12s are guning for League glory and travelled to Hampstead to take on a good Alyth Belsize team.

The game started very cagey with both defences on top and not many chances created. Delia commanded his defence well as Alyth had 4 corners on the bounce but the Wood back line of Delia, Parratt, Gardiner, Adom and Mill stood firm. Down the other end after some great play in midfield between Joyce and Rocha, Adoma started his running battle with the keeper and a great strike saw the Alyth keeper pull of a top drawer save.

 

Staszewski was pulling the strings in midfield and had adapted well to meeting the long ball from the Alyth defence. After some great play, he was denied by what can only be described as a world class goal line clearance. The goal seemed inevitable but the Wood boys would have to keep switched on. All square at half time was probably a fair reflection of the half.

 

The Wood decided to try and play passes in behind the Alyth back 4 in the second half to capitalise on Adoma's pace. Within minutes following great link up play from Parratt and Staszewski, Adoma was released and after composing himself and finding the corner he was again denied by a great save. The Wood were piling on the pressure but also remained switched on to the long ball being attempted at every chance by Alyth.

 

The breakthrough came after some great work by Rocha found Adoma in the box who ruthlessly finally beat the keeper. The Wood smelt blood and pounced on this. After some great work out wide Adoma found Joyce in the box who finished for his first goal for the club! The game was put to bed minutes later when a Staszewski shot deflected into the path of Adoma for him to add his 2nd and the Wood's 3rd of the day. Fowler, Murphy and Evans came onto the pitch and added to the hard work that was being put in across the pitch; Evans coming close with a thunderous strike that just missed the top corner.

 

With 2 minutes to go Alyth hit Borehamwood on the break and scored with a great finish. All of a sudden the game was back on. Alyth kept going and when a free was given on the edge of the box, there midfielder stepped up and really made it interesting with a great shot into the top corner to make it 2-3. However, the boys are made of stern stuff and through hard work and desire saw the game out to take all 3 priceless points.

Some first class lessons taken from the game and the Wood go marching on, still with a very good opportunity of League glory.

 

U11 Boys' game was called off today due to the other team suffering with illness. The game will be re-arranged when the lads have recovered.

 

 

U13 Boys were looking to grab three points at home against Oaklands Tigers Sharks, who are sitting directly above them in the table. The team started well but, other than Oswald - who worked honestly and tirelessly throughout - lacked spark up front where there was little energy or desire seen and certainly not enough to score a goal. The half ended 0-0 with the defense and midfield to the fore. 

 

The half time chat saw a staff request to drastically improve output up front and really try to make a difference. McGuinness grasped the nettle and was like a transformed player, running at great speed and threatening the away defence constantly. He was joined in this by Captain Sunkara, who was driving forward with incredible intent and focus. After excellent work from Manning and Crucefix to find him, Sunkara then produced a slide rule pass to Song out right. This young fellow has great ability so it was no surprise to see him produce a sublime chipped finish that found the top corner, securing all three points for his team and MoM for himself.

 

An excellent result for the boys and the clean sheet was further testament to keeper Marshall's growing excellence and Hobbs ability to tackle and organise. Pop also showed a refreshing level of composure throughout the match and Reed performed highly in multiple positions, doing did him great credit indeed.       

 

**

 

U18 Girls took to the field against Harpenden Bobcats in the Shield knowing nothing less than three points would be required to keep their interest in the tournament alive.

 

The squad was rocked in the early hours of the morning losing multiple players to illness and injury however, the girls formed a huddle and took a blood oath (sort of, it was strawberry jam actually) to give everything for the cause!

 

They roared out the blocks like hellcats, taking the game to the Bobcats and starting really well and led in this by the excellent Hodges, before a sublime strike from the opposition fairly flew into the top corner from 25 yards out; it really was a bit special and a kick in the teeth for the Wood's gals.

 

Earlier in the season, this would've cued the Wood white flag, but, amongst other things, the girls have learnt to deal with adversity, sticking together really well and calmly preparing their comeback. After good pressure from Captain Harry-Brown, Makamian took an excellent corner that was attacked by the impressive Branigan. She hurtled through a dense pack of players to stick her right big toe on the ball and steer it skillfully into the net! As the half closed, the Bobcats purred into action and stole around the Wood's defence to score a certain goal, however, the outstanding Luckhurst had other ideas and made a crucial saving tackle!

 

The Wood laid seige on the Bobcats defence second half with the uber talented Umalin impressing up front, the steely Tulloch doing the same in midfield and an energetic and focused Steward in particular doing so also at the back. Try as they might, however, the goal would not come. The tension was unbearable and the Wood's travelling army were biting their nails incessantly, leaving a haystack of clippings by the side of the pitch. Just when it seemed time was running out, Hodges put a perfect corner into the box for PoM Branigan to drive forward again and meet the ball skillfully on the half volley, the team celebrating wildly as the ball struck the net!

 

The Bobcats mounted a superb challenge to level the scores in the last few minutes with coach Branigan needing a seat and a large valium to deal with the mounting stress, however, the girls stood firm and picked up the all important points. When the final whistle blew the relief was huge and the girls jogged off full or pride in themselves and rightly so. They've extended their season and a win against Sarratt next week will see them into the semi-finals. Tune in next week to find out what happens!!

 

 

Meanwhile, the next generation of Wood girls, our U11s, hosted their good friends from LGDA today in what has become a barnstorming local derby. In a very frantic high energy 1st half there was lots of heart and desire from both sides.

 

The Wood scored an early goal from star winger Lois, showing pace and trickery to calmly beat the keeper and take her season's tally to an eye boggling 30! The coaches are running out of superlatives for this talented young footballer. Captain for the day - Hazel - had been a little quiet in front of goal for her recently, in what is her best season to date with 22 goals.

 

Today she showed how she could knit midfield and attack together with great hold up play and deft touches to our advancing midfielders. Right winger Elsie is fast becoming as much of a stalwart and goal threat as her great buddy on the left Lois. After a quiet start in front of goal to the season she has now got 12 goals and was looking to add more today but was thwarted by some great goalkeeping. PoM Romey got a second Wood goal with a brilliant individual effort, receiving a pass to feet from the defence, turning and breaking free. She beat the next defender with skill and was through on goal, previously Romey may have been caught or mistimed her shot, but not anymore; she dispatched her effort into the bottom corner like a cold blooded assassin.

 

Karadonna is developing very nicely and is morphing into the most dangerous 10 we have seen after another great performance from her , cajoling and conducting the team's attacks. The midfield duo of Ella & Amie had their work cut out again today against a very fluid and fast LGDA, Ella having her best game for the team today in manager Dave’s opinion. She broke up play and stuck to her job and eventually was able to wrestle control of midfield and spring attacks driving at the opponents defence.

 

Amie is turning into Miss dependable for the team and her class allows her to play a myriad of positions, today she covered centre midfield and left side of defence from where she was able to launch attacks with her howitzer of a right foot. Lottie also had a superb game breaking from midfield into the opposition box, almost scoring from a cross field ball from Elsie, Lottie turned and controlled in one move but the LGDA keeper came out and smothered her effort.

 

The defensive three of Annie, Kate & Kiella were there normal super dependable selves, these three girls don’t get some of the the plaudits the attacking players do at times but they are the glue that binds us, and without them we’d be in trouble. They are a coaches dream as everyone is at least an 8 out of ten each week! Finally a word about our goalkeeper Emily who made 3 very important saves today to keep the opposition out; one effort tipped over the bar early in the match will live long in the memory! She also swept up any through balls that happened to beat our defensive wall.

 

What a unit they are becoming and we are super proud of them all!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #26

Posted on 27th March, 2022

It's been a vintage weekend for the Wood's sides with our formidable juniors in the very finest form!

 

U12 Boys played their first home game in 10 long weeks against GFA Enfield Lions and were looking to keep their title charge on track. The Wood started how they finished the week before, playing a great passing game and applying the pressure from the kick off. This resulted in an early goal for Adoma; after some quick footwork in the box he struck well past the GFA keeper. Adoma made his next goal all through his own hard work, after chasing down the defender before nicking the ball from him and slipping it through the keepers leg for his and the Wood's 2nd.

 

The back 5 was solid again in the quest for their 4th consecutive clean sheet with Captain Gardiner rallying the troops from the off. Following a Khan corner and a flick on at the front post from Staszewski, Adoma was unmarked at the back post to complete another first half hatrick. 3-0 at half time and it seemed like job done.

Parratt replaced the solid Hebblethwaite who looked solid after his recent injury. Adom has become a solid centre back in the past few months and picked up and continued to make great runs into midfield. A free kick on the right resulted in Parratt whipping in an amazing cross for Staszewski to head home expertly from 10 yards out. The same combination resulted in the impressive Wood's 5th. Parratt whipped a corner in from the left this time to again find Staszewski’s head and finish the game off for certain. The Wood weren’t finished there though and the ever impressive Staszewski completed his own hatrick following some good pressure from Murphy who won the ball from a goal kick and then found the pass for Staszewski to drill home and add the 6th.

 

In the last minute GFA scored a consolation goal which denied a Wood clean sheet. Mom went to Staszewski who just seems to be able to do the lot. The title race is still alive. It shows how far the team have come that they were upset with conceding late but that should not take anything away from another impressive squad performance.

 

 

Just after these fireworks, U11 Boys put on another scorching game against AC Finchley North. Luca in goal played fantastically and even managed a double save today, diving back and scooping the ball from the line while he was on the floor!

 

Audley, Cristian, Yue and Noah in defence were in superb form and could not have played any better. Aiden returning after illness to his place in midfield, Jayden to his right and Ethan to his left and Bailey up front; it was game on with shots flying in from everywhere.

 

With the Wood pushing on relentlessly the goals started flowing. After many attempts Noah netted the first with Bailey following up five minutes later. Thomas then came on for Jayden and continued to press and cross. Audley then put a blinder in the net and Aiden followed up with a cross from Audley that was straight to his foot and into the net! 

 

In a fine game to watch, there was brilliant passing, crossing, shooting and goals and the boys played brilliantly as a team today. Mom went to Noah for his continued running, passing, shooting and all round play throughout the game.

 

 

Meanwhile, our intrepid U11 Girls travelled away to a very strong and powerful Hemel aces side. The Wood started the game very strongly and had the Hemel keeper working overtime; efforts from Lois, Elsie & Hazel stinging the Hemel keeper's palms as she saved expertly.


Lois was causing issues every time she got the ball and soon went on a jinking run beating three players before calmly slotting past the Hemel keeper! The next 20 mins were very tense with the Wood's mighty front three aided by Karadonna and her dancing, dribbling feet unable to breach the Hemel goal again.


In midfield Amie and Ella had their hands full with the exceptional attack causing no end of problems for the girls to deal with but they stuck to it and held firm. The Wood's defensive trio of Kate, Annie & Kiella had to be on their toes today as the Hemel keeper's booming kicks rained down on their heads, Emily coming back from a sprained thumb was imperious between the sticks today and swept up any danger behind the three musketeers in front of her.


Wood continued to dominate possession and efforts on goal but couldn’t find the second, until a great team goal. The ball was passed out from the back by Annie to her twin sister, Elsie instinctively played a quick pass inside to Amie’s feet, Amie drove forward and released to Hazel who beat the Hemel defence with a slide rule pass to her left winger Lois.
Lois beat her player and chipped across to the back post where Elsie was waiting to volley home the goal of the season! What a wonderful display from the girls!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #25

Posted on 20th March, 2022

The weekend's matches for the U18 Girls and U13 Boys promised much with exciting and important Cup matches to play.

 

U18 Girls faced Div 2 opposition - LGCE - in the Shield knowing a win would secure them three valuable points in their mini-league. The girls came into the match in fine form, this  against the top Div1 sides too, thus the Wood faithful were salivating at the prospect of a vintage performance.

 

Unfortunately, the girls just couldn't match the focus, endeavour and desire of their lower ranked opponents who clearly wanted to progress in the competition. The result was 0-3 to LGCE and this really didn't flatter them. They worked their socks off, were very determined and just had the better approach from the off. PoM went to Harry-Brown who looked sharp and proactive throughout and can be proud of her efforts.

 

The Wood's girls' have two more matches to try and secure enough points to progress to the semi-final; these matches will be the last in juniors' football for many of them. There is absolutely no doubt they have the ability to progress, but, it won't happen by chance, just with lots of effort, togetherness and a real desire to improve and stay in the competition.

 

 

U13 Boys meanwhile were down to the last 4 of 32 teams that started the Junior League Cup and faced AC Finchley in a semi final at Pursley. The stands were packed for this blue ribband match and the boys were outstanding first half as they performed brillianly to a player.

 

Captained by the excellent Hones, the boys dealt comfortably with Finchley's offensive pressure while looking dangerous themselves going forward. McGuinness was lively up front and forced the away keeper into several saves while Crucefix in particular was poking quality passes through the lines which almost led to goals on several occasions.

 

The second half carried on in the same vein until a match turning sequence of events, sadly brought about by Wood ill discipline. After winning a free kick, a needless punch was thrown resulting in a yellow card and the free kick being reversed. Wood misery was compounded further when the resultant free kick somehow found the net after what looked like a deflection. Two minutes later and an inexplicable Wood challenge resulted in a cast iron penalty and despite Marshall's best efforts, that hit the net too.

 

From being in control to two down in a flash stunned the Wood who lost focus and ceded space all over the park. Finchley took advantage and put the match to bed with two further goals. At 0-4 it looked like it was only going to get worse but, with Ifeacho and Makamian reinforcing the defence superbly, the team rallied, finishing strongly with MoM Sunkara driving forward on a mission to score a goal and give the Wood the very least they deserved from the game. In the end, it didn't come but, in this lad the team has another talisman they can gather around going forward.

 

Reed & Hobbs deserve great credit for giving the shifts they did after only recently recovering from illness, however, it wasn't to be today and a lesson in discipline has been learned the hard way by everyone. However, the vast majority of the boys conducted themselves superbly and can be very proud of their efforts; the Club certainly applauds them for this and for having a real go.

 

 

Meanwhile, U12 Boys travelled to Enfield to take on Omonia Youth in the League, trying to gain an invaluable three away points in their super promotion push.

 

The Wood started off a little slowly and were rushing their passes which gave Omonia a chance to get into the game. Although there was a lack of attacking threat to start, the back 5 stayed switched on and did not allow Omonia to put any chances together, led by Captain Joyce and his deputy Adom.

 

Nearing the end of the half the Wood were knocking the ball around well and the chances started to arrive. Staszewski, Khan and Rocha combined to find Adoma in the box but a good save from the keeper denied the Wood opener. A long range free kick from Staszewski also went close but at half time it remained goalless.

 

The Wood were doing all the right things and were asked to keep playing the same way in the second half, stay patient and the goals would come. Hebblethwaite replaced Parratt at right back and from the very start of the half he found a great pass to Khan who played a 1/2 with Adoma and then released Staszewski who calmly slotted past the keeper but was denied by the post. The deadlock was finally deservedly broken when some great work down the right by Khan saw his cross fall at the feet of Rocha who waltzed round the keeper to tap home.

 

It was non-stop waves of attack from the Wood after this, the catalyst being the pressure Wood defenders and midfielders were putting on the Omonia midfielders and forwards. Adoma got the goal his hard work deserved when the ball broke to him and his quick feet gave him room to get his shot off into the bottom corner. Murphy came into midfield and Evans replaced Adoma up top. These two combined really well after coming on to finally wrap the game up. Murphy’s ball into the box dropped nicely for Evans who’s initial shot was saved by the keeper but sheer determination gave Evans another chance to smash home from 5 yards.

 

More goals were nearly added from Staszewski amd Murphy's long range efforts with the woodwork denying them. At the end of the game the Wood had won a well deserved 3 points and really seem to have something special going on in the squad. The title push is still on!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #24

Posted on 13th March, 2022

U12 Boys were back in league action this week and travelled to Park Street to take on St Albans East to try and keep their League title push alive.

The Wood started as well as they have ever played, passing across the back and through the midfield from the off. After just 2 minutes Adoma had his first of the day and he quickly added his second minutes later to take his tally to 20 for the season. After some great play across the back between Joyce, Adom, Gardiner and Parratt, the latter crossed a great ball in for Adoma to complete his hat trick.

 

Staszewski was typically pulling the strings in midfield alongside the hard work from Khan and Fowler. Fowler has been improving every week and came close to his first goal for the club when his well struck shot hit the bar. 20 minutes in and the game was put to bed, Adom brought the ball down and went past two players into midfield and let loose with a now trademark thunderbolt into the the top corner from a full 25 yards. The Wood were now in cruise control and the half was topped off with Fowler’s first goal for the club with a fantastic lob of the keeper, which drew rapturous applause from every Wood player and fan. Five up at half time and well deserved.

Subs at half time saw Mill on for Gardiner, Evans for Adoma and Rocha for Fowler. All three boys brought energy and fitted in well with how the team had played in the first half. The goals continued to flow when the ever impressive Staszewski altzed past four players to finish and make it 6 0. Walker replaced Parratt and again didnt put a foot wrong. The Wood were playing some great stuff and added a well worked 7th when a cross found Gardiner to finish from inside the area. An 8th was put in late in by the St Albans defender stopping a certain goal after some great work from Staszewski again. Delia in goal was rarely called upon but, was alert when called upon.

The impressive Adom picked up MoM after playing superbly and controlling the tempo of the match. A great squad result again for the Wood Army who are zoned in on bringing home the title this season. 

 

 

U13 Boys faced North West London Jets away, with the opposition in fine goalscoring form, having scored 17 in their last two matches. It was, therefore, a game warranting a big performance, with three points required to push on up the table and banish any lingering relegation doubts. With a big Cup semi-final next week, it was also a good time to get some momentum flowing.

 

It was, however, the Jets who started on the front foot, raiding through the Wood defence and midfield with impunity and it was keeper Marshall pulling off multiple outstanding saves who kept them from scoring. McGuinness joined the fray and immediately set Ifeacho free with a superb raking, long pass. The Wood sharpshooter barrelled through and despatched with style, giving the team an unlikely lead. However, despite Malcolm drilling just wide and Captain Song continuing his good form, further chances were limited and the Jets scored an equaliser which, though they deserved it, was down to repeated Wood mistakes.

 

Half time saw a period of retrospection as the boys knew they had underperformed themselves by some margin. To the joy of the travelling army, the second half saw a transformed display with boys competing from the off, led by the combative Sunkara, who was driving forward remorselessly from centre midfield; total energy, determination and purpose. In this he was joined by the outstanding Hones at centre back, winning huge tackles with desire and hunger, brushing off a bloodied knee like it didn't exist.

 

Ifeacho was rampant, blasting his second high into the net then reaching a powerful Sunkara header before the Jet's defence, cheekily flipping the ball over the keeper and finishing into an empty net for his hatrick. Makamian, operating effectively on left wing won several fouls before beating the defence and narrowly firing past the far upright, while the industrious Manning leapt like a human flea before seeing his flying header go narrowly wide. Crucefix joined the party, pulling the strings beautifully in midfield before producing a slide rule pass that shredded the home defence and saw Ifeacho drive through to produce a wonderfully composed finish as he rounded the keeper for his fourth. There was still time for Sunkara to grab his debut goal, drilling past the keeper then releasing a scream of joy at his achievement, signalling again the determination he has within.

 

All in all, it was a superb half of football and on the day, MoM went to Ifeacho for a four goal haul of the very highest calibre while Hones' endeavours mean he can now look forward to leading his team out with pride as Captain in next week's semi final. Well done to all the lads.

 

 

Meanwhile U11 Boys are producing some of their best football thus far and faced a tasty APB Ravens side away.

 

At the back, the imposing Luca continued between the sticks, getting every decision right as he threw himself about like a rag-doll to stop the opposition's fierce shots. Matei heading up the defence with Christian, Audley and Noah got to every ball that came at them, throwing themselves on the line bravely again and again.

 

Klawdjo, Aiden and Jayden in midfield were running, passing and shooting in style along with the dynamic Bailey upfront. After numerous efforts on goal, Bailey struck, bang! Up stepped Jayden to do the same; bosh! In the second half, Shreyank took up his roll in midfield and struck another; kapow! Leaving Bailey to smash in another; whack! A first class performance that even Batman and Robin couldn't have bettered!!

 

Mom went to the outstanding Noah for excellent defending and it's great to see the boys enjoying their football so much.

 

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U18 Girls have been resting ahead of their big, forthcoming cup games so it has been left to our U11s to fly the flag for the club's Girls' section; what a good job they are doing too!

 

On a day of all weathers starting with a downpour and hailstones right on kick off, the girls dominated possession against a gifted Chipperfield side and the crowd were soon cheering what they thought was a goal after a brilliant effort by Kara; alas, it just found the side netting though! However, soon after, Elsie quickly and skillfully found the net after some lovely build up play from Kate and Annie. Hazel the Hammer then announced her arrival by cracking the crossbar from long range.

 

On the stroke of half time, the Wood scored again with a great effort from Lois, followed by Elsie’s second of the day which involved a brilliant build up from back to front. This saw Emily, who made countless world class saves, kick the ball to Kara, who played a lovely one two with Lois who then crossed it in for Elsie. Lois then scored her second of the day which was a cool penalty into the left top bin!

 

The girls continued to combine well with the enthusiastic Amie forming a good partnership with Annie, shoring up the back nicely. In addition, Lottie and Lucy were inspirational taking it in turns to break up play and then releasing good forward passes to their team mates. The team managed to find a late goal too, working as a unit throughout to see out a very good performance against a strong Chipperfield side.

 

A special mention for the match's star performer and POM - Elsie - who scored a stunning hat trick and was unplayable today at times; what a talent! While star winger Lois' two strikes saw her burgeoning tally grow to 28 for the season!

21/22 The Word in the Wood #23

Posted on 5th March, 2022

With the U12 Boys having a free week, all the Wood action was over at Pursley.

 

Our U11 Boys have been improving week on week this season as they prepare for competitive football from September. They faced a talented Enfield Rangers side today over at our bitterly cold home ground!

 

The management team of Jamie and Greg started off the match with a completely new formation for the boys and they all settled into it very well. With the expert Luca in goal, Matei leading the defence admirably and the gifted Yue, Noah and Audley supporting, they looked solid and difficult to break down at the back.

 

Aiden, Klawdjo and Shreyank were sharp in midfield with Bailey the same up front as a lone striker. The shots were coming in thick and fast from both teams with Luca pulling off lots of good saves as was the away keeper.

 

The Wood came out second half and carried on their good play from the first. Cristian was introduced in defence alongside William and both boys got up to speed very quickly, enjoying excellent games.

 

Our first goal came from Klawdjo with a brilliant strike that whistled past the away keeper. After a brilliant passing move involving the entire team, Aiden lobbed one over the keeper for a super second Wood goal. A little while later, Shreyank raced through and showed the coolness or a cucumber in Gucci clothes, dribbling around the keeper to score our 3rd!

 

MoM went to Aiden for his consistent passing and excellent first touches and all the squad can be very proud of their performance today; first class!

 

 

Following on at Pursley were the U13 Boys, playing third placed Whestone Wanderers Leopards. The lads are preparing for their forthcoming Cup semi-final and were hoping for a morale boosting performance in the lead up to this big game.

 

They certainly achieved this from a defensive standpoint, keeping an excellent clean-sheet and while Marshall, Hones, Pop and Hobbs continue to develop their positional play, they have all enjoyed excellent seasons thus far and are central to the Wood having one of the tightest defences in the League.

 

Offensively, the guys are working dilligently but, struggling to find the confidence, composure and sharpness required to score goals regularly at this level. This is true of those starting matches as it is for those coming off the bench. Manning enjoyed a good first half probing from midfield but, opportunities were very limited throughout the match and good looking opportunities are not yet being converted into regular goalscoring chances or goals. With the undoubted ability the boys posess and the quality they show in training too, it is surely just a matter of time before real improvement is seen in this area.

 

In any case, Oswald continues to learn and improve and played a very encouraging cameo today while MoM went to Song. This young man has great ability and showed second half what he is capable of, enjoying an excellent closing stanza that saw him take the game to the opposition defence, really enjoying himself and looking very effective in the process.         

 

 

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U11 Girls travelled away to face Welwyn Pegasus in difficult conditions on a wet and windy 3G pitch. The team has been scoring freely this season so the main focus today was keeping a tight defence also.

 

Welwyn started very strongly and the Wood had to be sharp to match them before winger Lois popped up to score her 25th goal of an incredible season! The back four of keeper Emily and rotating defenders Kiella, Kate and Theaya, who was returning from a long term injury today. These girls where ably supported by midfield partners Ella & Lucy and they were all tasked with shutting out this good Welwyn side and the girls did their jobs excellently.

 

Hazel ran riot last week with six goals and was being watched like a hawk today but still managed to sneak home a great solo finish for her 21st of the season. Elsie was next to score with skill and dazzling trickery, she created room for herself on the edge of the box before unleashing a pile driver into the bottom corner of the net.

 

Then came Romey’s first of her brace today. Keeper Emily noticed the quick break was on and released the Kraken with a mighty boot which bounced once in front of the Welwyn defence; Romey spun and turned her markers before winning the foot race and sliding home.

 

Goal machine Lois then stepped up with her 2nd of the day and 26th of an amazing season, getting on the end of some excellent team build up involving Lottie, Ella & Elsie and then calmly finishing, showing her growing maturity in front of goal.

 

The biggest cheer was saved for Romey’s 2nd, she was played in after some excellent skill and dribbling from Lottie, who then had the nous to play a slide rule pass to Romey’s feet.

Romey then turned and beat two defenders before calmly slotting home past the onrushing Welwyn keeper; cue pandemonium amongst the Wood's travelling army!

 

Welwyn continued to give it their all and were a threat going forward, testing the Wood's defensive resolve throughout. PoM went to Romey after an exquisite display but, a special mention to the returning Theaya whose season has been blighted by Covid & then injury. However, this girl didn’t miss a beat today and she slotted straight back into a team that has been very successful this season. No easy task but handled like a pro!👏👏👏