“Kabby’s partnership with Tyrone Marsh has been crucial in seeing the Wood climb the table”
We move onto our next match preview interview, as Steve Pye returns discuss his team Boreham Wood:
Hi Steve, so how would you rate Boreham’s season so far?
It’s been a season of promise so far. At the start of the campaign I don’t think the team picked up the points they deserved, and there was a worrying patch of three league defeats on the bounce at towards the end of August. Having players sent off in four league matches didn’t help matters, yet the team is on a good run of late and are within touching distance of the play-off positions. It’s nice to look up the table for once, rather than down.
What’s been your highlights up to now?
The 3-0 win at Dagenham was an excellent performance, as was the 4-0 demolition of Stockport at Meadow Park. You can’t beat a stoppage time winner, so the last gasp win over Solihull turned into one of those afternoons that you live for as a football fan. I didn’t attend the last match at Halifax, but to beat the league leaders away from home should give the team great confidence.
How’s your recent form been heading into Saturday’s clash?
The Wood have won five out of their last eight, with their only defeats coming against the in-form Notts County and Barrow. The win at Halifax was ideal preparation for the difficult trip to Torquay, and the club will be desperate to get into the hat for the next round.
What did you make of the draw when it was announced?
I was disappointed on two counts. Firstly, I was hoping for a draw against someone outside the National League, as progressing in the FA Cup would be great, so an away match at Torquay provides a major obstacle in that regard. Secondly, as my son plays football on Saturday mornings, we won’t be able to make the journey down to Devon. We love the FA Cup, so it’s a real shame for us that we can’t to go to the match. Hopefully we can go to the replay or the next round, although I’m not sure you will agree with that sentiment!
Your chairman has bemoaned the small attendances, how do you think the club could attract more people?
This is such a difficult issue to resolve. I must say that Danny Hunter is trying his best to get people through the turnstiles. The new covered North Bank stand is superb, and the early bird season ticket offers are great value for money; my season ticket costs £99, and my son’s is £50, and he gets a free kit with that. But it seems a lot of people have taken up the deal but then chosen to stay at home. In reality, if they go to just six league matches they get their money back on the offer, so the chairman is now rolling out a loyalty scheme, allowing those who attend at least 15 home matches to receive the discounted price next season.
But how do the Wood get more through the gates? With so many Arsenal, Tottenham, and Watford fans in the area, maybe the club is fighting a losing battle. My wife wondered if the club could give away free tickets in the local schools, just to get a few more bodies into the ground, but perhaps this isn’t financially viable? All I can say is that the facilities are great, we’ve always felt very welcome, and it’s a great shared family experience for me, my son, and my mum. We’re Arsenal supporters, but taking my boy there more than twice a season is an expensive business. Being able to regularly attend football matches at an affordable price has given us so many memories to share.
Kabongo Tshimanga looks like an excellent prospect, what do you make of him so far at Boreham?
I was excited when he signed, as Kabby scored 37 goals for Oxford City last season, and I hoped he would give the Wood a cutting edge up front. He has justified that anticipation, and has hit the ground running and already scored 9 goals this season. His partnership with Tyrone Marsh is starting to click, and with two players like that up front then you always have a chance in any game.
Naturally you start to worry that some league clubs will begin to sniff around, looking for a bargain in the National League, but for the time being I’m going to push that to one side and just enjoy Kabby scoring a lot more for the Wood.
Apart from KT who are the other key players and why?
As I hinted at above, Kabby’s partnership with Tyrone Marsh has been crucial in seeing the Wood climb the table, and keeping this duo quiet will be a challenge for most teams in the league. Keiran Murtagh is a fine midfielder who makes the team tick, and the wing backs play a big role in the team, with Kane Smith and Femi Ilesanmi always looking to get forward. Smith has missed the last few matches, so hopefully he’ll be back at the weekend.
Recently the club signed keeper Nathan Ashmore from Ebbsfleet, which was an interesting move given the fact that at his previous club he had jumped into the home end at Meadow Park to confront some of the Wood Army. But that aside, I’m sure he’ll be a good signing for the club, bringing a lot of experience with him.
What sort of tactics does the manager use?
Luke Garrard sets the team up with three at the back, wing backs giving width when in possession and obviously slotting back into defence when needed. A midfield trio provide the protection and guile needed, with youngster Sorba Thomas really starting to flourish as he settles into the team.
What are your best Boreham-related Cup memories?
We’ve only been going to Boreham Wood since 2015, so undoubtedly the highlight for us was the 2017 first round win over Blackpool, the Wood’s first win over league opposition. It was a memorable day, and shortly after the event I wrote a blog about the occasion; I can still remember scrambling around on the floor celebrating the winner. A 3-0 defeat at Coventry followed, but it was an excellent day out with the Wood Army in full voice.
What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
It’s the hope that kills you, but I’m starting to keep a closer eye on the play-off positions now, which is possibly a little ambitious on my behalf. Finishing in the top half of the table should be well within the capabilities of this squad, though – injuries and suspensions permitting – and I’d love the team to have a decent run in the FA Trophy.
And finally, let’s have a match prediction please!
You asked me for some promotion predictions earlier in the season, and I stated that Chesterfield, Wrexham, and Fylde might do well. They’re currently 18th, 21st and 22nd respectively, so you can see that I am dream punter for bookmakers up and down the country!
A few weeks ago I was very worried about the Torquay match, but the Wood’s recent upturn in form has left me slightly more optimistic than usual. So I’ll sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw, with the Wood to win 2-1 in a replay.