TT OPPOSITION Q&A
Steve Pye discusses Boreham Wood
Hi Steve, so how would you summarise Wood’s season in a couple of paragraphs?!
Hi. Well, in a couple of words I would describe the season as frustrating and disappointing. The team currently sit three points off the play-offs – the clubs above have games in hand unfortunately – but I feel the position could be so much better. Defensively the team have been pretty sound, although worryingly in recent weeks the goals against column has taken a bit of a dent (13 out of our 27 goals conceded have been in the last eight matches).
But the goals have hardly been flowing at the other end of the pitch. Just 31 in 27 league matches – King’s Lynn have the same total in 24 matches – and an inability to kill teams off has resulted in too many draws. The away form has been superb, which is just as well, as the Wood have only won 3 league matches at home all season (https://www.soccerstats.com/homeaway.asp?league=england5). There is still hope of course, but the team need to get on a run pretty soon, and start winning matches at home!
What affect has Sorba Thomas’s departure had and have you brought in replacements?
Losing Sorba was a big blow, but it was inevitable that he was going to leave at some point. I’ve been keeping an eye on his progress at Huddersfield, and I’m so happy for him that he got a move to a Championship club. Personally, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the form has dipped a bit after his departure. Playing in that free role/in the hole behind the front two, he was such an important component in the team.
Luke Garrard did bring in a couple of players in an attempt to fill the void. Strikers Junior Morias and Tyrone Marsh returned to Meadow Park, but I don’t think we can really see them as direct replacements for Sorba. Ideally one of these would play in a front two with Kabs Tshimanga – Marsh formed a fine partnership with Kabs last season – and to me it as felt like we’ve been trying to put a square peg into a round hole with Morias playing behind the top two. Maybe that has been the reason for the slight dip, but perhaps I’m trying to analyse things too much?
How’s the team’s recent form been heading into the Torquay game?
As I’ve hinted, the recent form has been a concern. One win in eight league matches has slowed down the push towards the play-offs. The last five matches sum up the situation neatly. Three of those matches have seen the Wood take the lead and fail to hold on for the win, and the 1-0 defeat at Wealdstone was infuriating in that the team did everything but score. The 0-0 at Woking is 90 minutes of my life I’m never going to get back.
When you’re in a bad run of form then the last thing you probably need is for Torquay and Notts County to come over the horizon, but a small part of me is hoping that the team could raise their game for these matches. Now would be a great time to turn around the home form….please!
What’s been your highlights of the season so far?
The FA Cup run was great, as the club reached the third round for the first time in their history. Obviously it was a shame that we couldn’t get to any of the matches on the run, but at least we could witness a bit of history from our living rooms.
From a league perspective, the run before Christmas and into the New Year was very enjoyable. Wins at Hartlepool and Notts County were impressive, and being able to get to see the 3-2 victory over Aldershot at Meadow Park was a highlight. The 3-0 win over local rivals Barnet completed the winning run, and gave hope for the season ahead.
Can the club still challenge for a play-off spot?
I would like to think the Wood can still make a push for the play-offs, but recent results have left me feeling a little pessimistic and worried. Getting anything out of the next two matches will be a bonus, and I’m just hoping that the team can get a run going as the season draws to a close. The talent is definitely in the squad, hence the frustrated tone in most of my answers, and it just feels like it is a case of finding a winning formation/formula to realise the potential at the club.
What formation is the team likely to use on Saturday?
The Wood normally line up with three centre backs, two wing backs, and three in midfield, with one of those just behind the front two. It is a formation that Luke Garrard has generally used for a few seasons now. I have wondered whether he has been tempted to change it recently, but it has been tried and tested over a long period of time, so perhaps it would be risky to switch now.
Who are your key players and why?
All teams need a good keeper, and the Wood are lucky to have one of the best in the league in Nathan Ashmore. Some of his saves this season have been memorable, and the team may well have lost at Woking on Tuesday had it not been for Ashmore. Wing backs Kane Smith and Corey Whitely provide the width. Smith has been superb since he arrived at the club in 2017, and it was great to get him back in the team after he had to miss pretty much the whole of the 2018/19 season due to a knee injury. Whitely has really impressed me in recent weeks in a role that is alien to him.
The team rely heavily on Tshimanga for goals – probably too much – so it would be good if others could start to chip in a bit more. I think a special mention for centre backs Jamal Fyfield and Femi Ilesanmi is well deserved. Both have been consistent performers throughout the season, and provide experience and a vocal presence in the team.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
Team wise I would say that Sutton were very impressive. The Wood did not play very well at all in the recent 2-0 defeat at Gander Green Lane, but sometimes that’s because the opposition don’t let you. It hasn’t surprised me that Sutton have just gone top. I’m not saying they will go up, but based on what I’ve seen they have given themselves a great chance.
I always struggle to remember players that have performed well against the Wood; maybe I’m trying to erase them from my memory? Josh Neufville was a threat in Yeovil’s 3-2 win at Meadow Park and I’ve often thought that Matty Kosylo is a top player, so I was not surprised when he scored in the Wood’s 3-2 victory over Altrincham. Louis John scored Sutton’s first in their win and he swept up everything at the back neatly.
And finally, the FA Trophy win was one of United’s better performances in recent months – what’s your prediction for Saturday?
Let’s skip over the FA Trophy match, if you don’t mind?! You can probably guess that I’m not feeling too positive at the moment; a combination of lockdown and some iffy results can do that to anyone. I know Torquay have hit a dodgy patch for their standards, but I still expect you to edge it on Saturday. I really hope I’m wrong. My predictions are normally terrible, so if I go for a 2-0 Torquay win then hopefully I will be proved wrong and the Wood can get something out of the match.