Boreham Wood 0-0 Tranmere: Report

It was more boredom than Boreham Wood for Tranmere, as they played out a real snooze fest at Meadow Park.

The hosts, threatened by relegation from the National League, rarely showed any adventure in a dull 0-0 draw as Rovers struggled to break them down at the other end.

Regular long and often aimless hoofs forward stifled the visitors as they searched for a crucial goal.

But eventually they were sucked into the way Wood wanted to play – and it did not make for pretty viewing.

Gary Brabin insisted there would be no knee jerk reaction from Tuesday’s defeat to Woking.

But that result certainly served as a wake up call as the Rovers boss made changes to the formation and starting line up.

Lee Vaughan, an arrival on loan from Cheltenham on Thursday, made his debut at right-back in a 4-3-3 system.

That meant Lois Maynard was able to push into central midfield, whilst Ben Tomlinson started alongside Gary Taylor-Fletcher and James Norwood in attack.

Regardless of how many men the visitors had upfront though, it would take a lot to get past a robust Boreham Wood defence.

Centre-half David Stephens in particular was a man mountain and gobbled up any long ball that came his way.

Indeed, neither team really threatened early on, as the number of balls lost over the small stands on either side quickly mounted.

It took until the 26th minute for Rovers to register their first chance, with Tomlinson stabbing wide when off balance from near the penalty spot.

Shortly afterwards, Gary Brabin was forced to shuffle his pack as Jay Harris limped off with a knee injury.

Adam Mekki replaced him, but moved into central-midfield instead of his preferred role out wide.

Tranmere had their best chance yet as the half-hour approached, with an audacious flick from Maynard acrobatically tipped over the bar as it threatened to loop in.

But that was the only time Rovers managed to hit the target in the opening 45 minutes in a game stifled by the host’s physical presence and insistence on lumping the ball forward.

Taylor-Fletcher had one further chance, firing over inside the box after receiving Norwood’s knock-down.

And whilst chances were sparse, injuries unfortunately were not on a stingingly cold afternoon.

Scott Hogan became the second Tranmere player to succumb to fitness issues with the break approaching as after making three quick tackles, he limped off to be replaced by Ritchie Sutton.

Boreham Wood meanwhile came close with moments to go until the break as Anthony Jeffrey burst down thet left and crossed to Mauro Vilhete, but his shot skipped wide of the far post.

Proceedings continued in much the same vein after the break as the first action saw Brabin forced into his third substitution.

This time it was Taylor-Fletcher who hobbled off with an apparent calf injury – leading scorer Andy Mangan replaced him.

Not deterred by losing three key players though, Tranmere continued to search for that crucial first goal.

Maynard had a further chance, flicking a header wide from Tomlinson’s floated cross, before Clovis Kamdjo nodded off target when unmarked at the other end.

However, the prospect of either team truly threatening was merely a folorn hope.

Indeed, Boreham Wood’s style of football was summed up by their coach, who ordered his goalkeeper to kick “higher, higher”, indicting he wanted more altitude on the clearances.

That was how the hosts believed they could sneak it.

Tranmere have struggled against the stronger, less adventurous sides this season.

So hoofs into the high, windy night sky became more regular, with the ball swirling around in the blustery conditions.

That made things difficult for Sutton and Steve McNulty at the back, unable to predict just where the ball was going to land.

But generally they coped well, and as the game entered the final fifteen minutes, Tranmere tried to turn the screw.

Mekki looked threatening in midfield as he tried to get the ball on the deck and burst forward.

One particular run resulted in a free-kick which Mangan slammed into the wall, before another good opportunity fell Norwood’s way.

Maynard again got his head on a ball into the box, nodding diagonally down to the striker who could only fire wide across goal.

In the dying few minutes though, Tranmere should have won it.

Norwood had the best chance yet, nicking the ball off the defender to create a one-on-one chance on the edge of the box.

He could not get the direction he wanted on the shot though and fired straight at the ‘keeper.

Seconds later, it was Mangan’s turn to be denied as Maynard’s tenacious play eventually saw him slot a pass to the striker on the left-hand side of the box.

He took too long on the shot though, and it was eventually diverted away at the near post by James Russell.

In injury time, Boreham Wood had a chance too, Conor Clifford blasting high and wide from a 30-yard free-kick, in truth the closest they came all afternoon.

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