Football, Mansfield Town


Saturday 13th August 2022
Sky Bet League Two
Leyton Orient 1-0 Mansfield Town
Breyer Group Stadium, Brisbane Road
Attendance: 6238 (away support 536)

THERE might have been a better outcome for Mansfield Town at Brisbane Road, had Stephen McLaughlin’s first-minute penalty not been turned around the post by Leyton Orient keeper Lawrence Vigouroux.

The spot-kick had been awarded when Vigouroux brought down Rhys Oates, who had attempted to round the keeper following a through ball from Stephen Quinn straight from the kick-off.

Vigouroux would go on to deny Oates with his feet three times in the first half, the Stags unable to capitalise on any of their chances.

After the break, there were warning signs that Mansfield could be made to pay for their wastefulness

Keeper Christy Pym was called into action just past the hour mark, tipping away George Moncur’s curling effort. From the resulting corner, Dan Happe sent a powerful header just wide.

But the hosts then scored the only goal of the game after 63 minutes, Charlie Kelman firing home from the edge of the box after being teed up by Idris El Mimouni.

It was a brutally hot day in London, the temperature reaching 34 degrees.

On a personal note, this was the 12th time I’ve seen the Stags play at Brisbane Road, and the ninth time they’ve left empty-handed.

London E10 is rarely a happy place for Mansfield Town, but the outcome of today’s game could have been different, had any of those first-half chances been taken.

LEYTON ORIENT: Vigouroux, James (Thompson 84’), Happe, Smyth (Brown 74), Archibald, Moncur (Sotiriou 77), El Mizouni, Pratley, Beckles, Kelman (Smith 84), Hunt. Subs not used: Sargeant, Ogie, Thompson, Sweeney.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Pym, Gordon (Perch 85), O’Toole, Harbottle, Hewitt, McLaughlin, Boateng (Lapslie 45), Hartigan (Maris 65), Quinn (Clarke 65), Oates, Swan (Gale 85). Subs not used: Flinders, Wallace.

REFEREE: Mr L Doughty

Boreham Wood

23 Years

Saturday 29th January 2022
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood 3-1 King’s Lynn Town
Meadow Park
Attendance: 907 (away support 92)

HOME fans held a minute’s applause in the 23rd minute of today’s game, their way of commemorating the week when Danny Hunter became the longest serving chairman in the club’s history, having taken over in 1999.

The match programme, a special retro edition based on the 1999/2000 format, contained ten pages of tributes from club staff, players past and present, friends and associates.

These are remarkable times for Boreham Wood FC. Today’s 3-1 win against struggling King’s Lynn Town keeps Wood in the National League’s leading pack, two points behind leaders Stockport County with two games in hand.

Most of those in the ground today are also looking forward to next Sunday’s trip to AFC Bournemouth, when Wood will contest an FA Cup 4th Round tie for the first time ever.

Luke Garrard’s team have also reached the last 16 of the FA Trophy, a cup competition which offers Wood a more realistic chance of a Wembley final.

Visitors King’s Lynn, just one place off the bottom the table, took a surprise early lead this afternoon, before Wood drew level just before half-time through Josh Rees’ close-range header.

It was Rees who put Wood ahead five minutes into the second half, capitalising on the rebound after keeper Paul Jones had parried Danilo Orsi’s initial shot.

Tyrone Marsh completed the scoring on the hour-mark, firing home with the aid of a deflection after Frankie Raymond’s free-kick was only partially cleared.

On a day of celebration at Meadow Park, Wood extended their unbeaten run to 16 games in league and cup. There is much more to look forward to in the coming weeks, too.

BOREHAM WOOD: Ashby-Hammond, Reckford, Evans, Stephens, Rees, (Boden 51), Marsh, Raymond, Comley, Mendy Mendy, K Smith, Orsi (Adrian Clifton 82). Subs not used: Roach, Lewis, C Smith.

KING’S LYNN TOWN: Jones, Fernandez, Bird, Widdrington (Sundire 90), Linton, McGavin (Barrett 60), Jones, Charles (Walker 55), Scott, Phipps. Subs not used: Bowry, Altintop.

REFEREE: Mr J Durkin

Boreham Wood

The Other Cup

Saturday 15th January 2022
Buildbase FA Trophy 4th Round
Boreham Wood 1-1 Maidstone United (Wood win 5-4 on penalties)
Meadow Park
Attendance: 502 (away support 160)

FORMER Boreham Wood player Hakan Hayrettin returned to Meadow Park today as manager of Maidstone United, currently joint leaders of the National League South.

He could not bear to watch the penalty shoot-out that decided this FA Trophy 4th Round tie, Wood eventually winning 5-4 after the two sides had taken six kicks each.

In front of a sparse home attendance, boosted by a lively visiting support at the Brook Road end, Wood took the lead through Tyrone Marsh’s 18th-minute penalty, awarded for a trip by Stones’ Regan Booty on Josh Rees.

The visitors levelled after 73 minutes when Michael Phillips slotted home Christie Patterson’s cross via a deflection off a Wood defender.

Maidstone threatened to snatch a surprise victory with several swift breaks downfield in the closing stages, but it was Wood who missed the best chance to decide the game ahead of penalty kicks.

Scott Boden, who had replaced Adrian Clifton after an hour, was teed up by Rees six yards out, but somehow scooped the ball over the bar when a goal seemed certain.

Things did not get any better for Boden in the penalty shoot-out when his kick – Wood’s third – was saved by keeper Tom Hadler.

Taye Ashby-Hammond then blocked the Stones’ next attempt with his legs, before Marsh scored from the spot for the second time this afternoon to level the scores at 3-3.

With both sides finding the net from their fifth attempt, the tie moved into sudden death.

Stones’ Joe Ellul saw his kick crash down off the underside of the bar and bounce clear, before Kane Smith stepped up to send Hadler the wrong way and put Wood into the 5th Round.

One week after reaching the last 32 of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history, Luke Garrard’s team can also look forward to a February appearance in the last 16 of the FA Trophy, a cup competition that provides the club with a more realistic passage to a Wembley final.

Wood penalties:

Raymond – scored (1-1)
Rees – scored (2-2)
Boden – saved (2-3)
Marsh – scored (3-3)
Mendy Mendy – scored (4-4)
Smith – scored (5-4)

BOREHAM WOOD: Ashby-Hammond, Evans, Stephens, Fyfield, Smith, Mendy Mendy, Rees, Raymond, Marsh, Clifton (Boden 60), Orsi (Lewis 72). Subs not used: Roach, Ranger.

MAIDSTONE UNITED: Hadler, Hoyte, Fowler, Ellul, Brown, Booty, Phillips, Corne (Odusanya (90+2), Deacon (Pattisson 71), Luque, Barham. Subs not used: Gallagher, Mersin, Binnon-Williams, Walters.

REFEREE: Mr A Ajibola

Boreham Wood

Reduced Numbers

Saturday 18th December 2021
Buildbase FA Trophy 3rd Round
Barnet 2-3 Boreham Wood
The Hive
Attendance: 823 (away support 187)

IT NEEDED only a quick look around the stands at The Hive on this grey Saturday afternoon to realise this FA Trophy tie was sparsely attended.

Around 700 Boreham Wood fans had been here when these two sides met in the FA Cup two months ago. But, with Christmas just a week away, and with Wood due to visit The Hive yet again on Boxing Day for a National League fixture, today’s game was always going to be the easiest of the three to skip.

Wood manager Luke Garrard named a squad of just 13 players, with only reserve goalkeeper Joshua Roach and academy player George Joyce on the bench.

Barnet took the lead after seven minutes when Rob Hall’s shot from the edge of the box sailed past keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond with the help of a slight deflection.

But Wood were in front by the half-hour mark thanks to two goals from Tyrone Marsh, the second a firmly struck penalty which crashed down off the underside of the bar and over the line.

The hosts levelled before the break, when Wes Fongluck finished well after a neat through ball from Hall. 

The winning goal for Wood came after 65 minutes, and was worth the £15 admission alone. Receiving a pass from Adrian Clifton, Marsh played the ball through the legs of a Barnet defender before firing into the top corner beyond keeper Aston Oxbridge to complete his hat-trick.By then, Barnet had been reduced to ten men when Mitch Brundell received a straight red card for an elbowing incident.

The hosts ended the game with only nine players on the field, after Josh Payne also saw a straight red for a foul on Frankie Raymond.

Sitting with the Wood supporters in Stand 66, I could not help but recall the last time I was here, for this same fixture on 3rd March 2020. At that time, the UK was on the brink of going into its first lockdown, as the Coronavirus pandemic began to take hold. That game at The Hive would be the last football match I would personally attend for six months.

Fast forward 21 months, and there was a certain sense of déjà vu. Aside from the depleted squads on duty here, this was also a day when numerous Premier League and EFL fixtures were called off, with too many players testing positive, as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country.

Wood have three National League fixtures scheduled for the remainder of 2021. But, with the COVID situation under constant review, it remains to be seen how many of these will go ahead.

BARNET: Oxborough, Thomas, Richards-Everton, Hall, Brundle, Marriott, Greenidge, Fonguck (Tasdemir 74), Taylor, Beard, Woods (Payne 87). Subs not used: Azaze, Bilalli, Horsley-McKay.

BOREHAM WOOD: Ashby-Hammond; Ricketts, Stephens, Fyfield; Mendy Mendy, K Smith, Mafuta, Raymond, Marsh; Clifton, Lewis. Subs not used: Roach, Joyce.

Euro 2016, Football

A Lille Sunshine

Wednesday 15th June 2016
UEFA EURO 2016, Group B
Russia 1-2 Slovakia
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Attendance: 38 989

“Le foot comme on l’aime” (football how you like it) was the slogan used in France’s bid to host the Euro 2016 championship.  The ugly scenes in Marseilles last weekend had left those upbeat words looking pretty hollow by the time matchday 2 of the group stages began with this Group B game in Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Eight days before the UK votes on whether or not to stay in the EU, I was in the birthplace of the man who never wanted us to join in the first place.  Former French president Charles de Gaulle twice vetoed the UK’s application to join the then European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1960s.

It was 11 months ago in the initial ballot that I had secured the one Euro 2016 ticket I had requested: Wednesday 15th June, kick-off 3pm in Lille.  It would be a one-day trip on Eurostar to get a brief taste of the Euros and see whichever teams happened to be playing on the day.  The draw for the tournament was still five months away, the final 24-team line-up still not decided.

Last December the draw revealed that Russia and Slovakia – the other half of the group containing England and Wales – would be contesting this fixture in Lille.  Five months of personal procrastination and indifference followed, during which time my passport expired.  It was just five weeks ago that I finally bit the bullet and decided I was definitely making the trip.  Eurostar ticket booked, passport renewed – all set.

According to UEFA’s host cities guide, Lille has the dubious honour of being the most besieged city in France, having been in the front line of events from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution.

Now, with England and Wales fans having been encouraged before the start of the tournament to base themselves in Lille ahead of their teams’ game in Lens – 25 miles to the south-west – on the very day that the Russians were coming to town, news reports and social media suggested that this part of the Pas de Calais could become another battleground at some point today.

But all was calm enough on a bright morning in the city centre.  A busker playing the accordion sat at the foot of the escalator leading out of the Eurostar station; the fanzone opposite seemed deserted at this relatively early hour.

A line of police vans along the Avenue le Corbusier which links the Eurostar station and the Gare de Flandres was an early reminder though of how the city is currently on alert for further trouble.

To think that just a week earlier, on the eve of the opening ceremony, the threat of a terrorist attack was the big dark cloud hanging over this tournament That threat is still real enough, even if the attention of fans and news channels has been diverted elsewhere since.

Blue and white-shirted Slovak fans were already gathering in the cafés and bars around the Place Charles de Gaulle, many posing for group photos with their flags and scarves proudly on display.  Barely a dark red Russian shirt was to be seen at this early stage.

Putting football on hold for the next hour, I strode purposefully through the cobbled streets of the old town to visit the house in which Charles de Gaulle was born and raised, now open to the public as a small museum and exhibition.  With my interest particularly captured by the black and white film, running on a loop in the multimedia centre, and narrating the major events of de Gaulle’s life up to and including the liberation, I was the last to leave by the time the lady on duty was locking up for lunch at midday.  It had been well worth the six Euros admission.

Back in town at the impressively named Fan Embassy – actually a portacabin – on the Place du Théâtre, a volunteer offered a pocket-sized guide local information guide and directions to the stadium, advising fans to get there early as security would be tight.

Outside the Gare de Flandres, more fans – still mostly Slovaks – were gathering and the noise level rising.  It was time to head to the Métro for the 15-minute journey to the south-eastern suburb of Villeneuve d’Ascq and the Stade Pierre Mauroy.  Lengthy queues at the numerous ticket machines briefly looked ominous, but moved quickly enough, with a member of staff on duty at each machine to assist in speeding up the process.

Bag checks by armed police were in operation at Métro station Cité Scientifique, where fans disembarked before continuing on the 10-minute walk past a multi-storey car park and hall of residence, then along the dual carriageway Boulevard de Tournai to the stadium.  Along the route, touts openly waved tickets above their heads for anyone interested.  The grey exterior of the Stade Pierre Mauroy soon came into view, just beyond the bridge over the E17 motorway and next to a row of three bland-looking hotels.

Stage one of security at the stadium: a crowd gradually filtered into smaller queues before stewards held up everyone’s match ticket to check the hologram.

Stage two consisted of multiple short queues for a quick but thorough patting down.  The young Slovak fan in front of me carried a small red, white and blue plastic trumpet, barely bigger than my hand.  It was not allowed through; he could either leave it at the Consigne just behind us or drop it in the bin.  He chose the latter option.

All seemed relaxed outside the stadium.  Fans of both sides mingled freely; all the Official Fan Shops were doing a roaring trade in replica shirts, fleeces, footballs and scarves.

It was the the same story once through the electronic turnstile to the concourse, as many Slovaks, fewer Russians, plus a smattering of English, German and French fans queued together at the food courts.

With the stadium roof closed to protect the pitch from the heavy showers forecast for the afternoon, there was a slightly dark and claustrophobic feel to the place as kick-off time approached, and the standard UEFA opening ceremony of flags and dancing girls got underway.

The game itself would come alive with two well-taken goals for Slovakia from Weiss and Hamsik before half-time.  Russia, despite enjoying more possession after the break, continued to threaten little.  But Glushakov’s cushioned header ten minutes from time brought Russian fans to my left, completely anonymous up to that point, to their feet in celebration, and set up an unexpectedly tense finish.

That late goal was also the cue for the one and only flare of the day, lit among the Russian fans at the far end of the stadium.  How do they get those things in, when the little plastic trumpet didn’t make it?  The Japanese lady sitting to my left, seemingly startled by my sudden burst of exasperation, had no answer.

At the final whistle, the Slovak fans, very much in the majority at this end of the stadium, were able to celebrate their country’s first win at a European Championship as an independent nation.  Memories of Belgrade 1976 came flooding back.

A leisurely 15-minute walk back to the Métro followed in the now warm early evening sun.  A long, winding queue awaited the crowds on their arrival.  But it moved forward swiftly enough, with stewards quick to clamp down on the occasional queue-jumper.

Arriving back at the Gare de Flandres just after 6pm, I had around 45 minutes to spare before checking in for the Eurostar.  Singing and chanting from a nearby street was clearly audible.  A walk across the road brought a large congregation of English and Welsh fans into view, crammed into a pedestrianised side street.  They soon launched into their latest song, “F*** off Russia, we’re England and Wales”.

Thinking that if I walked into town, there was a risk of finding my route back to the station blocked by a line of police, or the possibility of teargas drifting into my face, should anything kick off in the next half an hour, I decided it was time to quit while I was ahead.  The day had gone remarkably well; there was no need to do anything nor go anywhere which risked spoiling it now.

In the sanctuary of the nearby Gare de Lille-Europe, where the same busker was still playing his accordion at the foot of the escalator, a quick visit to O’Conway’s bar to catch some of the Romania v Switzerland game filled the spare minutes.  A newly-purchased copy of France Football would provide educational reading for the journey home, and for a few days to come.

The punctuality of Eurostar combined with a well-timed connection at St Pancras had me back through my front door within two and a half hours of leaving Lille.  It can easily take that long to drive up the M1 to Mansfield.

It was a shame, but no great surprise, that TV pictures on the evening news programmes would show more disturbances – although thankfully not on the same scale as Marseilles – in the centre of Lille that evening, on at least one of the streets I had walked down just hours earlier.

Images like those, whether from the BBC or a by-stander’s smartphone, don’t lie, but they do give an overly negative view of the bigger picture.  The events of the day had, from my perspective, been good-natured and trouble-free.

Security issues and crowd behaviour at the Euros continue to cause concern, with Croatia and Turkey the latest countries to face UEFA charges for disturbances during their teams’ matches.

But for the majority of fans attending the tournament, that slogan “Le foot comme on l’aime” might not be so false after all.