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Magpies galvanised after Walker sees red
DORCHESTER TOWN 0 BOREHAM WOOD 0
ALL football fans know about the dreaded curse of the manager of the month award – whoever wins it often has a day to forget when their side next takes to the field.
For Nathan Walker on Saturday it was the player of the month accolade that brought about the same undesired outcome.
But luckily for him, his second-half sending off ultimately didn’t prove fatal for the Magpies.
If anything, it seemed to galvanise the hosts into a battling rearguard effort that earned a point which delighted boss Phil Simkin and, from the reaction at the final whistle, the fans as well.
It may not have been the best of games to watch, made worse by a gluepot of a pitch at the Avenue, but after Walker was dismissed with 53 minutes gone it was all about holding out against a team that possess one of the best collective strike forces in the Blue Square Bet South.
The fact that they did without defensive lynchpin Walker for most of the second period and striker Kieffer Moore, substituted with an on-going thigh problem halfway through his home debut, made the performance even more impress- ive.
Minus the injured Ben Watson and suspended Charlie Clough for the visit of fifth-placed Wood meant Dorchester were always going to be up against it and that’s how things looked in the first 20 minutes.
Michael Thalassitis planted a header on to the roof of Jason Matthews’ net, the same player then saw a shot cleared by Neil Martin before Graeme Montgomery fired a stinging left-foot shot just wide.
Then Montgomery side-footed wide and Loick Pires flashed an effort across the face of goal and it took 21 minutes for the hosts to test James Russell though Martin’s weak shot was easily gathered by the keeper.
Having waited patiently to see the ex-Truro frontman at the Avenue, the Magpies’ supporters weren’t getting to see the best of Moore.
That was partly down to the close attention he was receiving from Luke Garrard and Charlie O’Lough-lin but also because of the niggling thigh problem sustained at his former employees last month.
There was also an element of frustration in the Magpies’ play as they couldn’t seem to gain a foothold in the game with Wood on top.
Moore did go close with a header from a Sam Malsom free-kick and although the home side gained some parity all they could muster was speculative long-range efforts.
Half-time saw youngster Josh Ten-nant replace Moore for his own first- team debut and it was Wood who enjoyed the best of the opening few minutes of the second 45 minutes and Morgan should have done better instead of slicing wide.
Then, eight minutes in, the red mist descended in front of Walker and after a heavy first touch midway in his own half the central defender went in too forcefully on Morgan for referee Mark Pottage’s liking and was sent off.
His rashness nearly had an immediate impact as O’Loughlin’s shot was blocked and Pires tucked the ball in only to see the linesman’s flag go up for offside.
Roles were reversed on the hour mark when Dorchester had a goal chalked off after Mark Jermyn turned the ball home but only following a foul by the outstanding Arran Pugh on Russell.
The best chance of the whole game came two minutes later when Pires, unmarked and just four yards from goal, somehow headed the ball into the ground and over the bar from a corner.
It was never going to be Pires’ day as he sent another header wide from Montgomery’s centre and after Lewis Morgan failed to execute a lob from 25 yards with the Wood goal gaping, O’Loughlin forced Matthews into a fingertip save from substitute Piero Mingoia’s free-kick.
Tennant was running himself into the ground – not the only home player to do so – but his defensive skills were put to the test when he had to clear off the line following a goalmouth scramble.
From then on, the visitors were reduced to pot-shots from distance and with Jamie Gleeson coming on the added steel in midfield and all- round work ethic saw the Magpies hold out with Matthews producing one more save in injury-time to deny Cliff Akurang.
Magpies: Matthews, Jermyn, Smeeton, Pugh, N Walker, Morgan (Gleeson 76), Crittenden, Nicholls, Moore (Tennant 46), Malsom (Bell 56), Martin. Subs not used: S Walker, Floyd Boreham: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Garrard, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Morgan (Mingoia 64), Isaac, Thalassitis, Pires, Montgomery (Akurang 86). Subs not used: Noto, Doolan, Hastings.