By Declan Taylor
There was no way through for a young Arsenal XI against their resolute Ryman League opponents on Tuesday night.
The Gunners started well with Nacer Barazite fashioning a few early half-chances. But the home side stood firm, led by committed captain Curtis Ujah, a rock in defence throughout.
Arsenal spent the second half camped in Boreham Wood’s half but the non-leaguers continued to restrict their more-established opponents to long-range pot-shots with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Mark Randall and substitute Oguzhan Ozyakup all going close.
Although the draw put an end to the XI’s 100 per cent record in pre-season, another hard-fought 90 minutes, against such industrious opponents, will certainly please manager Neil Banfield.
There were three changes to the side which put seven past Maidenhead a week ago. Wojciech Szczesny, who was on the bench for both Emirates Cup clashes at the weekend, replaced James Shea between the sticks.
In defence, Craig Eastmond came in at right-back with Ignasi Miquel partnering Luke Ayling in the centre. Jay Simpson, scorer of Arsenal’s third at York Road, was omitted from the squad with Barazite leading the line this time.
But it was the Dutch No 9’s opposite number who really should have opened the scoring within 60 seconds. However Dean Green could only steer a completely free header wide from eight yards.
After that early scare Arsenal were soon in to their stride. Barazite’s trickery caused problems in the home side’s backline in the first 10 minutes. But, after some typically neat footwork, his finish was lacking.
The visitors continued to dominate possession but, in truth, their Ryman League opponents were never overly troubled before the break. And it could have been even better for Boreham Wood with lively winger Mario Noto delivering a series of testing crosses with Green always lurking.
The Gunners surged through the gears after half-time against Maidenhead, but they remained frustrated this time around. Emmanuel-Thomas and Randall both tried their luck from distance but neither could find the target.
Banfield made a double change on the hour mark, swapping his three-pronged attack with a more orthodox 4-4-2. Substitute Freeman, who came on up front, almost made an instant impact but, after wriggling past the keeper, his low cross was hacked clear with the goal gaping.
More Arsenal possession followed but Boreham Wood’s Noto almost snatched the victory three minutes from time. However, after jinking in off the left flank, the winger speared his strike into Szczesny’s side-netting.
- Eastmond 70
- Miquel 70
- Sunu 59
- Barazite (C)
- Randall 70
- Watt 59
- Ozyakup 70
- Henderson 59
- Evina 70
- Boateng 70
- Freeman 59
- Ujah (C)
- Reynolds 68
- Kirby 68
- Morgan 46
- Allinson 68
- Brathwaite 59
- Watters 46
- Brett 68
- Richards 68
- Fraser 59
- Highton 68