Boreham Wood 3-1 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town began the new National League season with a defeat as they lost 3-1 at newly-promoted Boreham Wood.

Jordan Burrow marked his debut with the last kick of the first-half from the penalty spot after Ricky Shakes had opened the scoring.

But the hosts regained the lead through debutant Jamie Lucas mid-way through the second-half before Harry Cawford, also making his first appearance for the club, sealed it in added time.

Town hit the woodwork through a Jake Hibbs free-kick just after half-time which, had it gone in, could have sent Halifax on their way to victory.

Neither team could claim to have been at their best, but the fact that Boreham Wood’s first and second goals came from pretty basic passes from deep that weren’t dealt with will leave Halifax with a sense of frustration, although both chances were taken skilfully.

To say Boreham Wood were playing in the fifth tier for the first time in their 67-year history, Meadow Park wasn’t exactly packed to the rafters, despite the conditions being the almost obligatory opening day bright sunshine.

Like Town last summer, Wood are having to adjust to life without a striker called Lee.

Twenty-five goal top-scorer Lee Angol helped fire them to promotion last season while on loan at the club, and was rewarded with a close season switch to Peterbrough.

How Boreham Wood replace him will go a long way to determining their success or failure this term.

His immediate replacement Lucas had only joined them earlier in the week, with no sign of veteran forward Charlie MacDonald, who Neil Aspin had warned his side about in the build-up.

Town, on the road for the fourth successive opening day, had only three survivors from the team that started at Dover a year ago in Matt Glennon, Scott McManus and James Bolton.

Seven players made their debut, with one of those, Hamza Bencherif, doing so as the new club captain.

It took nigh on 20 minutes for the first effort at goal after an error by Kingsley James, who had seen as much of the ball as any Town player early on, was pounced on by Luke Howell, whose shot from 30 yards bobbled narrowly wide.

If this game is anything to go by, the former Chester midfielder will be a key component of the new-look Town side, as he sat in-front of the back-four, breaking up Boreham Wood attacks and trying to start them for Halifax.

It was fairly standard start-of-the-season stuff until the opening goal heralded a more open contest, with neither side throwing too much caution to the wind and both struggling to assert themselves over the other.

Wingers Shakes and Josh Macdonald were both lively and inventive when on the ball, and looked the best creative outlet for their respective sides, although service to the two lone strikers Lucas and Burrow left a bit to be desired.

In-keeping with what had preceded it, the opener came from an innocuous-looking build-up rather than a finely-crafted move as a long ball somehow evaded a touch until Shakes latched onto it through on goal and cleverly lobbed the on-rushing Matt Glennon.

That came moments after Matty Brown drew a superb reaction save from James Russell with a low drive inside the area.

But Town could have been 2-0 down if it wasn’t for an equally fine save by Glennon to keep out Scott Doe’s stinging shot.

Hibbs, making his first league appearance in nearly a year, had been awarded the first booking of the season and wasn’t enjoying the same freedom he’d had against York a week ago, being largely restricted to a pressing game.

But he broke free and darted into the hosts’ penalty box with half-time seconds away and was duly brought down just inside the area.

Burrow, who had worked hard in the preceding 45 minutes without much reward, converted the penalty confidently, and took the net off its stanchion in the process.

Just after the interval, persistence from Elliott Whitehouse earned Town a free-kick on the edge of the Boreham Wood box, which Hibbs curled round the wall only to see it rebound off the post.

Bolton then headed a corner across goal and wide as Halifax began the second-half in the ascendancy and as if the 15-minute gap from Burrow’s penalty hadn’t happened.

But that brief bit of momentum fell away in another period of fairly scrappy football, punctuated only when a miscalculation by Bencherif allowed Lucas to latch onto a long ball, slip past Brown and finish calmly past Glennon.

Not bad for his second day at the club.

The introductions of debutants Connor Hughes and Abdy Bishop saw Town revert to a 4-4-2 in search of a second equaliser.

But a combination of loose touches and loose passes from Town and a more defensive approach by the home side prevented The Shaymen exerting any real pressure.

Indeed, it was the hosts who still found time to find the net after substitute Crawford turned Brown before firing low at goal, with his shot slipping past the grasp of Glennon and crawling agonisingly over the line.

Boreham Wood: Russell, Nunn, Doe, Reynolds, Woodards, Lucas (Crawford 72), Shakes, C Clifford, B Clifford (Whichelow 78), Montgomery, Howell. Subs not used: Hill, Morais, Edwards.

Scorers: Shakes (38), Lucas (62), Crawford (90)

Shots on target:

Shots off target:

Corners:

Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Bencherif (c), Brown, McManus, Macdonald (Bishop 68), Hibbs (Hughes 63), James, Whitehouse, Tuton, Burrow. Subs not used: Porter, Hutchison, Walker.

Scorer: Burrow (pen 45)

Shots on target:

Shots off target:

Corners:

Attendance: 701

Town man of the match: Jordan Burrow