Barnet 1 – 2 Boreham Wood
Tuesday 2nd May 2023
The Hive, Vanarama National League Play-Off Eliminator
MEADOW LANE AWAITS
Lee Ndlovu’s first half brace was enough to secure the victory over rivals Barnet in the play-off eliminator, overcoming their noisy neighbours despite Harry Pritchard’s powerful strike after the break giving the Wood a scare in a feisty contest at The Hive.
Ndlovu opened the scoring against the run of play when a wonderful long ball from Chris Bush fell to the Wood top scorer, who took it under control before advancing and slotting beyond Laurie Walker to give the visitors the advantage, and he doubled both his tally and his side’s lead on the stroke of half time when he fired home at the second attempt after his initial effort had bounced off the post, sending the Wood into the break with a comfortable lead.
The visitors’ two-goal cushion wouldn’t last for long though as Pritchard fired home from the edge of the box shortly after the restart, but despite a barrage of pressure throughout the second half, the Wood held out to clinch the win and set up a trip to Meadow Lane with a big leap towards their goal.
Victory over the Bees sees the Wood progress to the play-off semi-final, with a big test set to take place on Sunday May 7th in the form of a trip to Notts County.
Luke Garrard made three changes to the side which beat Yeovil Town last time out, looking to add experienced heads for a crucial play-off eliminator in the form of Will Evans and Dion Kelly-Evans, along with the anticipated return of George Broadbent from injury.
A bright start from Barnet saw Nathan Ashmore forced into his first save after just three minutes, with Dale Gorman fizzing in a threatening cross that required a strong hand from the Wood stopper to keep it away from danger.
The Bees continued to control proceedings though with Jordan Cropper launching a long throw-in into the danger area where Harry Smith headed an effort off target, before Gorman sent an effort straight down the throat of Ashmore. This would precede a golden chance to Finley Potter from one of a handful of corners in quick succession, with the left back directing his close range header inches wide of the near post.
Set pieces proved a real strength for the hosts, and a deep free kick fell to Idris Kanu who saw a header cleared off the line by Broadbent as the Bees came ever so close to breaking the deadlock.
Despite their best efforts though, the lead would fall the Wood’s way who drew first blood with a brilliantly worked goal against the run of play. Bush picked the ball up near the touchline and fired an inch-perfect pass into the path of Ndlovu, who took it under control before rolling a low effort into the bottom corner for his 14th goal of the season.
This put the visitors in the ascendancy and they started to maintain some control, with Tyrone Marsh delivering a ball across the face of goal with nobody in position to score, before some nice build-up play led to Broadbent threading a ball through to the Wood number ten, who’s effort was deflected away for a corner.
Barnet responded as they tried to regain some of the dominance they showed early on, with Harry Pritchard firing a speculative effort that sailed well over the crossbar.
The Wood continued to threaten though, and almost doubled their lead when Zak Brunt cut the ball back across goal with his delivery going all the way through to Broadbent at the far post, who had two bites of the cherry as his initial was saved by Walker, who smothered his second attempt.
This then preceded three brilliant chances for Barnet, first when Smith headed over the crossbar from a free kick before Kanu forced Ashmore into a wonderful outstretched save to deny a rocket of a shot from the former Wood loanee, with his effort destined for the top corner.
This then preceded three brilliant chances for Barnet, first when Smith headed over the crossbar from a free kick before Kanu forced Ashmore into a wonderful outstretched save to deny a rocket of a shot from the former Wood loanee, with his effort destined for the top corner. Cropper later found himself in acres of space on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t keep his effort down as he fired a wild effort into the away end behind the goal.
And the Bees would soon be made to rue these misses, as Ndlovu was on hand to send the visitors into the break two goals to the good. Ilesanmi delivered a cross into the path of the Wood number nine who’s initial effort hit the post, but everything he touched seemingly turned to gold as the ball bounced straight back into his path, allowing Ndlovu to tap into an empty net and double their lead on the brink of half time.
HT: Barnet 0-2 Boreham Wood
The Wood had the momentum after Ndlovu’s late second, and began brightly after the restart when the striker won a corner when his effort from the edge of the box took a deflection, shortly before Jack Payne headed over from the resulting delivery.
However, Barnet almost instantly found a route back into the game when the ball fell to Pritchard on the edge of the box following a corner, with the former Eastleigh man smashing a rocket of a shot through a crowd of bodies and into the top corner to halve the deficit.
This put the Bees in the ascendancy, and they could have drawn level straight away when Kanu forced Ashmore into another save from close range, with the Wood stopper needing to gather amidst a crowded penalty area.
Barnet had the momentum, and they went close again when Pritchard fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal from deep, where Nicke Kabamba was waiting at the back post to fire home but he couldn’t get on the end of the delivery, with the ball going all the way through and out for a goal kick.
The Wood were living dangerously, and could have handed Barnet a lifeline when Marsh was perhaps lucky to just go into the book for a reckless challenge on Kanu, with Gorman sending the subsequent free kick into the middle where Will Evans had to head it clear.
This preceded another moment of controversy shortly after, with Kabamba going down under a challenge from Bush as he had found himself through on goal, but the referee waved away the appeals for a spot-kick much to the frustration of those in the home end.
And it was quickly turning into a fiery encounter at The Hive, with Kelly-Evans soon joining Marsh in the book for a foul on Kanu right in front of the dugout that enraged opposition manager Dean Brennan.
The Wood continued to push nonetheless, and had the ball in the back of the net for a third time when Brunt sent Marsh away down the right flank who’s high cross seemed comfortable for Walker, but Ndlovu jumped with the Bees keeper and bundled the ball over the line with the referee deeming it a foul on the keeper, denying him his hat-trick.
A couple of half chances later fell to Barnet as Kabamba headed wide of the back post before a couple of opportunities for Kanu saw him denied by Ashmore from distance, before firing over from close range.
In search of a late leveller, the Bees continued to push as Smith and Danny Collinge each headed over from close range as two big chances went amiss, before substitute Danny Newton headed over at the other end.
Seven minutes of added time unsurprisingly brought wave after wave of attack from Barnet, who’s Football League hopes were on the line. It was the Wood who had the first opportunity in stoppage time though, as Payne fired over the crossbar from distance, but this sparked some hope for the Bees who’s one-goal deficit was still intact.
It wouldn’t happen for the Bees though who could muster little more, with the Wood holding out to seal the all-important victory.
FT: Barnet 0-2 Boreham Wood
Barnet: Walker; Cropper (Armstrong 59’), Collinge, Okimo, Potter (Beard 89’); Pritchard, De Havilland, Gorman, Kanu; Smith, Kabamba
Subs Not Used: Hall, Moyo, Senior
Goal: Pritchard 52’
Boreham Wood: Ashmore; Evans, Fyfield, Bush; Kelly-Evans (Agbontohoma 71’), Payne, Broadbent, Ilesanmi; Brunt (Ricketts 79’); Ndlovu, Marsh (Newton 87’)
Subs Not Used: Rees, Lewis
Goals: Ndlovu 19’, 45+2’
Star Man: Lee Ndlovu
Barnet 1 – 2 Boreham Wood