Boreham Wood 2-1 FC Halifax Town

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A dramatic last-gasp penalty condemned FC Halifax Town to a 2-1 defeat at Boreham Wood.

Nathan Clarke’s goal put Town in-front with 20 minutes remaining but Josh Umerah scored twice, including a penalty with practically the last kick of the game.

Town’s lead lasted only seven minutes after Clarke’s opener - Town’s fifth already this season from a corner, and Clarke’s second.

That goal looked to have edged Town to a victory built on a foundation of hard work, doing the ugly stuff when required and digging in.

But Boreham Wood battled back to leave Halifax empty-handed, and pretty shell-shocked at the nature of it.

There were debuts for new signings Joe Skarz at left-back and James Berrett in central midfield, with Niall Maher, Ryan Sellers and Michael Duckworth not included in the 16.

If that was due to injury, it was a good job Berrett and Skarz arrived when they did.

Town were compact, competitive and disciplined off-the-ball, and looked to be more expansive and expressive on it, but Boreham Wood’s back three gave little away, as did Halifax’s back four in an uncompromisingly physical encounter.

Angelo Balanta was Wood’s most creative player, with left wing-back Femi Ilesanmi also a threat with some marauding runs forward.

But the hosts created little, with striker Umerah unable to emerge from the commanding shadow of Matty Brown and Nathan Clarke.

Town came close early on when Jonathan Edwards’ low shot hit the post from Matty Kosylo’s cut-back inside the first five minutes.

Balanta sent a shot crashing just wide close to the half hour mark, but the hosts were restricted to long-range efforts.

The Shaymen looked a threat on the break through Kosylo, but Wood’s three at the back meant they always had enough defenders to deal with it.

Boreham Wood’s energetic manager Luke Garrard cut a frustrated figure on the touchline, which reflected his team.

Wood, last season’s defeated play-off finalists, had only scored twice before this game, and hadn’t won since the opening day, and they struggled to break through a well-organised Halifax back-line, with Brown and Jacob Hanson particularly impressive; the home side’s reliance on shots from distance was testament to Halifax’s defensive work.

By half-time, The Shaymen effectively nullified the hosts, but just needed more going forward to turn it into one of those textbook away performances.

To that end, Berrett’s piledriver from 20 yards was tipped over by Ellery Balcombe shortly after the interval.

The contest opened up a little as the second-half went on, with Balanta again trying his luck from outside the box, but Town continuing to frustrate their hosts.

And the next chapter in that textbook away performance was then written when Tomlinson’s corner was headed in by Clarke at the far post.

But the lead lasted less than 10 minutes as Umerah finally found some space inside the box, and fired a right-wing cross into the bottom right-hand corner from 16 yards.

And then Umerah smashed his penalty low past Johnson deep into stoppage time. The words “you have to laugh, or else you’d cry” in the full-time music seemed remarkably prescient.

Boreham Wood: Balcombe, Woodards (Thomas 74), Ricketts, Stephens, Ilesanmi, Shakes, Champion, Fyfield, Murtagh, Balanta, Umerah. Subs not used: Parry, Ash, Smith, Burbidge.

Scorer: Umerah (77, 90)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 9

Corners: 5

Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Skarz, Lenighan, Berrett, Tomlinson, Southwell, Kosylo, Edwards (Preston 67). Subs not used: Rowley, King, Odelusi, McLeod, King.

Scorer: Clarke (70)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 5

Attendance: 575

Referee: Tom Reeves

Town man of the match: Jacob Hanson