OPPOSITION Q&A – BOREHAM WOOD by Steve Pye

OPPOSITION Q&A

boreham_wood_fc

Steve Pye talks about his team Boreham Wood

Hi Steve, so how would you sum up Wood’s season so far?I think it’s fair to say that the Wood have exceeded expectations so far this season. I was hopeful that the club could challenge for the play-offs at the start of the campaign, but even then I wondered if that was a little ambitious, especially when Kabs Tshimanga left for Chesterfield. But to get to February and still have hopes of automatic promotion in a league this strong is so exciting. And of course the FA Cup run has been something else.How’s your recent form been?I wish you could have asked me this before the Maidenhead match, although in fairness that was our first league defeat since October. To reach this stage of the season with just three league matches shows you just how well the team have been playing. I do have a slight concern that the schedule is going to get hectic during the last few months of the campaign, but that has been unavoidable due to league matches being called off because of the cup run and Covid.What’s been your highlights?Being unbeaten in the league at Meadow Park has been great, especially as me, my son and my mum are season ticket holders and have not missed a match (well, I haven’t at least). There have been some good away wins too at Bromley and Halifax, but there are a number of difficult away tests to come: Torquay, Wrexham, Notts County and Stockport. The fact that the Wood are even competing with clubs of this size is an achievement in itself.How’s the FA Cup run been for you?!I could write a whole article on the cup run. Winning the qualifying round at Barnet was an appropriate start to the FA Cup adventure, with the Wood Army in fine voice in Edgware. The home win over Eastleigh was surprisingly comfortable, and another victory over local rivals St Albans (live on ITV4) gave us a shot at League One team AFC Wimbledon at Meadow Park. Again, this was relatively straight forward, as once the Wood took the lead then the visitors struggled to make their possession count. And then there was Bournemouth.What a Sunday evening that was on the south coast. The Wood Army sold out their allocation and the atmosphere was electric, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t really think we could beat a Championship team chasing promotion. Maybe that helped us though, in that Bournemouth have obviously got bigger fish to fry. Either way, when skipper Mark Ricketts scored a very rare goal, it’s safe to say I lost my s**t.The second half seemed to go on forever, but our amazing defensive organisation saw us hold on for an amazing victory, even if there were a couple of close shaves. When the final whistle went, the away end exploded, and I’m getting goosebumps now just thinking of the moment when the players sprinted across to share in the celebrations.Do you think the incoming game against Everton could help Torquay?I’m pretty sure the manager and players will focus fully on the Everton match when that is the next fixture, as they state repeatedly that everything is about the next match. It might be a slightly different situation if we were stuck in mid-table, yet after the defeat at Maidenhead the team needs to get back on track. Realistically we’re not going to win the FA Cup – sorry to be pessimistic – so prioritising the Everton match, or letting that dominate our thoughts, would be foolhardy.Who’s your key players and why?The team is built on solid foundations – 19 clean sheets in all competitions – so it’s not hard to see what the secret of our success has been. I often look at the team and find it hard to pick out a few key players, as collectively all the components slot together to perform so well. But if I had to mention some players then the wing backs Kane Smith and Jacob Mendy Mendy are crucial to the team, both defensively and going forward.Another key player has been Josh Rees. Signed from Aldershot in the summer, Rees has been a revelation as an attacking midfielder, scoring regularly like a National League David Platt or Frank Lampard. His goals have been vital, taking some of the pressure off the front two of Scott Boden and Ty Marsh.

Luke Garrard has done an excellent job, what’s his strengths as a manager?I can’t really compare Luke to other National League managers, but I do know that his preparation for matches is impressive. You often hear him referring to the fact that he has watched recent matches of teams we are about to play, and his knowledge of opposition formations and personnel gives you the impression that he leaves no stone unturned before sending his team out onto the pitch.He knows what his best formation is, he has assembled a squad that fits into that, and listening to him barking orders from the touchline you are made fully aware that every player recognises what his responsibilities are. I’m going to enjoy him while we can, as it’s blindingly obvious that one day he’ll be snapped up by a league club. I just hope he can take the Wood to the Football League before that happens.Can the Wood maintain their promotion challenge?As I said earlier, there are a lot of difficult fixtures on the horizon and the games are going to come at us thick and fast in the next few months. The squad isn’t the biggest, so we need a little luck with injuries. During this season we have lost important players such as Nathan Ashmore, Femi Ilesanmi and Gus Mafuta for long periods, but we have managed to cope with their absences. So it would be nice to get through the rest of the season with no more major injuries.I’m confident that the team can make the play-offs. Whether my confidence is misplaced remains to be seen, but they’re definitely deserving of a top seven finish. I was secretly holding out hopes for automatic promotion, but Stockport look so strong to me. It says a lot that Dave Challinor dropped down a division to take charge at Stockport, so finishing above them will be difficult for any club.What’s your likely tactics and line-up?The team will probably line up in their usual 5-3-2 formation. I say probably, as there could be a doubt over Kane Smith, after he limped off at Maidenhead. If he doesn’t make it then we could change things around, but I’m 99% sure we won’t switch from the usual 5-3-2.Taye Ashby-Hammond has done such a great job in goal since Nathan Ashmore was ruled out, and the three centre backs in front of him are likely to be Connor Stevens, David Stephens, and Will Evans (unless Jamal Fyfield is fit again after a hamstring strain). Smith and Mendy Mendy will be the wing backs, but if Smith doesn’t make it then that could hand a chance to Dennon Lewis.Rees will be a certainty to start, and Ricketts usually anchors the midfield. James Comley started against Maidenhead, but Frankie Raymond may come into consideration for a place in the starting XI. Marsh and Boden are the preferred partnership up front, but Danilo Orsi looked lively when he came on at the weekend, so he could start.And finally, what’s your prediction for Tuesday night?I think this is going to be another difficult away trip. The National League seems to be littered with these matches where I think that a point would be a good result. A 1-1 draw looks likely to me, and although a win would be great after the loss at Maidenhead, a point at Torquay would be a decent result.


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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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