Boreham Wood 0-4 Arsenal XI

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Updated: July 28, 2017
20170727_203703

Thursday 27th July 2017
Boreham Wood 0-4 Arsenal XI
Meadow Park
Pre-season friendly

THREE summers ago, Arsene Wenger cut the ribbon at Meadow Park on the day the ground’s new West Stand was in use for the first time.

The Frenchman was back at the ground last night, this time having been invited to officially open the new Desso pitch.

On a bright summer evening, Arsenal-supporting families, many having come directly from the children’s coaching sessions which had been taking place earlier in the evening, gathered excitedly by the touchline in the build-up.

Wood manager Luke Garrard, smartly dressed in a black suit for the occasion, engaged his illustrious opposite number in conversation in front of the newly-installed Premier League-style dugouts.

Doing the occasion justice, Arsenal brought a relatively strong squad to this annual fixture too.

Despite the Emirates Cup taking place this weekend, Steve Gatting was able to complement his under-23 squad with Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, a quartet with international caps to their name.

In the opening ten minutes, it was already evident that Wood, with six summer signings in the starting line-up, were going to have a hard time keeping their opponents at bay.

Keeper Grant Smith had just acrobatically tipped an Eddie Nketiah header over the bar, but was narrowly beaten by Akpom from the spot a minute later, the penalty kick having been awarded for a trip on Nketiah as he was making room to shoot.

It was 2-0 to the Gunners a quarter of an hour later.  Latching onto Akpom’s searching ball into the box, Stephy Mavididi skillfully chested the ball down before lifting it over the keeper.

A third goal followed on the stroke of half-time, as Jon Toral converted from close range after Grant Smith had parried Nketiah’s shot across goal.

Wood had struggled for long periods to get much possession in the first half.  But Kane Smith, a close-season signing from Hitchin Town, had caused the visitors some problems with his pace on the right flank.

Within three minutes of the restart, the Gunners added a fourth, Mavididi beating Smith on the near post, after finding space on the right side of the penalty area.

Akpom was unlucky not to get a second goal for himself, when his fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area crashed down off the underside of the bar and to safety, with Smith well beaten.

For Wood, Bradley Sach, one of six substitutes introduced by Garrard on the night, made good progress with a pacy run down the right flank, but his cross was blocked, with several teammates queuing up in the Arsenal box.

The 90 minutes had been a tough test for Luke Garrard’s squad, but an invaluable training session just nine days before the opening National League fixture.

It has been another busy summer at Meadow Park.  As well as the playing surface and Premier League-standard dugouts, upgraded floodlighting and a 5G training pitch are also in place, ready for the start of the new season.

Three years after Arsene Wenger opened the new stand, and two years since the historic promotion to the top tier of non-league football, the club is continuing its rapid growth phase.

BOREHAM WOOD: G Smith, K Smith, Woodards (Gordon 81), Wells (Johnson HT), Stephens, Shakes (Keita 72), Champion, Murtagh (Ricketts HT), Benson (Jeffers 65), Ash (Sach 65), Balanta (Andrade 58).

ARSENAL XI: Macey, Jenkinson, Bramall (Bennacer), Pleguezuelo, Debuchy (McGuane), Bielik (Johnson), Reine-Adelaide (Malen), Akpom, Mavididi, Nketiah (Mourgos).  Sub not used: Keto.

REFEREE: Mr D Rock

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