23/24 - The Word in the Wood #14

Posted on 10th December, 2023

Saturday's football was a complete wash-out across the board and our girls had to be content with warm weather training in the Bahamas as they missed out on yet another round of games due to the incessant rain. However, a little dry spell meant our boys had rather more luck. 


Having already secured their passage into the 3rd round of the Challenge Cup, the Wood's U15 Boys were looking to reach the quarter finals of the League Cup too against Maccabi Blue.


Currently plying their trade in the White division, this Maccabi side had played the current 1st and 2nd placed Red division teams in cup games of late and though losing these matches, had scored twice against both teams to send warning that they were not to be under-estimated. Unfortunately, the Wood's players didn't take notice and started the match flatter than a pancake under Nellie the elephant's foot. The team was second to the ball far too often, losing duels and conceded cheap free-kicks as they just weren't close enough to tackle cleanly. Turning their backs to balls that should have been headed clear, basic football skills were also absent as passes were mis-placed and the control and composure at times was pretty abject for this level of football, played incidentally on a pitch that rivalled Wembley.  


Green was one of the few playing to his level and after a crashing tackle from Reed to reclaim possession, he curled the ball beautifully past the home keeper to claim his 6th goal in 2 matches and announce himself firmly as a contender for top scorer this season. The Wood came in leaders at half time but, were hoping for far, far more second half.


This just didn't happen as Maccabi laid siege to the Wood goal and it was interventions at the back that kept our lead, first Makamian throwing himself full length to block a point blank shot destined for the goal and then keeper Marshall producing several outstanding saves as the Wood's composure disappeared completely. Maccabi secured a highly debatable penalty to draw level but, in truth, it was the least they deserved.


Extra time came and went and the match went down to penalties; could the Wood salvage the match at this late stage? Fan and Montgomery stepped up and slotted consumate penalties but, two Wood misses meant Marshall was required to stand up again. He didn't disappoint as he produced 3 incredible penalty saves on the spin to allow Captain Boshjaku to stride forward and bury the deciding penalty, thereafter doing a passable impression of Tarzan as he rightly celebrated!


Great character was shown by all our penalty takers today and a vintage performance from MoM Marshall made the difference. For now, we are in two cups second half of the season and that's very good. However, the Wood's boys have to work much harder than they were prepared to do today and have to dedicate more time to working on their technique and fitness. Most importantly though, they have to display far more courage when offering to receive the ball, otherwise, we become a long ball team and there is little future in that and small chance of progressing further. We can do better, and we will do better but, the desire to improve must be shared by every player in the squad, with the boys taking up this mantle themselves now they are firmly becoming young men and deciding what they want to achieve and how.




Meanwhile our U13 Boys played away at London Colney, keen to continue their recent improvements. 


The Wood started off like an express train with Gopinath collecting an exceptional pass from Lehouimel before slotting home with great panache. Colney fought back to take a 2-1 lead before the deadly Gopinath struck like a cobra, burying a fierce shot to keep it level at half time.  

Not happy with a brace, Gopinath grabbed his hat-trick and the MoM award with a shot that whistled into the net like a V2 after being fed by Joyce, enjoying a fine match himself in the midfield. Ward was becoming more and more influential in the match and his efforts led to Patel admirably and calmly slotting the team's 4th goal after unselfish work by O' Rourke before Colney fought back to level again!


In a crazy match, Kurti restored the Wood lead, superbly dispatching the ball after a vintage one-two with the impressive Patrick-Mason. However, with just seconds left, Colney somehow found an equaliser with the game ending 5-5!


What a match and what a performance from the Wood's boys who continue to ascend and will be straining at the leash ahead of their final match of 2023 next week!



Last but, certainly not least came our U14 Boys. Pushing the limits every week, the boys played away in the 3rd round of the Challenge Cup against top White division side FC Panthera, whose name is enough to give you nightmares, let alone their football!


However, the Wood's boys are up for anything just now and flew at their opponents, taking a 0-1 lead in at half time courtesy of a wonder strike from Smith, his 5th of the season already. The outstanding Chen then lashed home his 15th and 16th goals second half, in what is fast becoming an incredible campaign for this prodigious talent.


Panthera struck back but, could not draw level, the match ending 2-3 and the Wood recording a fine victory that sent them into the next round as belief surged through the squad! MoM went to Mill who has shown great strength of character all season and simply played a blinding match. Well done young man; you are a credit to yourself, your family, your team and your club.