Irn Bru Cup Second Round: Boreham Wood 0 Dunfermline 0: 08/09/18

Dunfermline progress having won the penalty shoot out 6-5

Following the likes of Berwick Rangers, Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham, Boreham Wood were added to list of English opponents Dunfermline Athletic have faced in cup matches. This Irn Bru Cup tie took the Fifers to Meadow Park in Hertfordshire.

The location was buzzing in anticipation of the big kick off but most were thinking of the imminent start of this year’s Strictly at the nearby Elstree Studios. Further star spotting was possible with the latest Celebrity Big Brother evictee Hardeep Singh Kohli spending his first night back in sanity at the team’s hotel.

So how would a Scottish Championship side fair against a team in the fifth tier of English football? Would the Pars be in the dance off, would they face eviction or could they come, conquer and restore some pride in Scottish football?

Manager Allan Johnston was without Ryan Williamson who was on international duty with Scot Gemmill’s Scotland Under 21s. James Craigen, Robbie Muirhead and Kallum Higginbotham started in place of Williamson, Devine and Hippolyte.

Boreham Wood made four changes from the side that defeated Chesterfield in midweek, Connor Smith, Halkett-Fairchild, Immanuel Parry, and Justin Shaibu came in replacing Tom Champion, Mark Ricketts, Josh Umerah and Àngelo Balanta.

The hosts kicked off attacking the goal in front of the sizeable and vociferous travelling support. First shot of any description came in fourth minute from Joe Thomson but his 30 yard out effort dropped outside the right upright.

Three minutes later Craigen accepted a short pass and snapped a low effort that went outside that same post. A few misplaced pass and then a dispossession led to The Wood getting an eleventh minute chance but fortunately Lee Robinson was well position to make an easy take on Halkett-Fairchild’s shot from the edge of the penalty box.

There was an opportunity for the Scots when James Vincent robbed Kieran Murtagh midway into the Wood half. He laced a good ball to Muirhead to his left but his cross was intercepted and in the follow up Thomson drove the ball back towards goal, reaching Faissal El Bakhtaoui on the 18 yard line but he was closed down before he could turn and shoot.

The midpoint of the first half arrived with both teams having seen periods of possession but nothing had caused the keepers any threat whatsoever. Shaibu made a strong run to set up Ricky Shakes for a speculative cross into the Pars box from the right but the defence cleared the rather overhit delivery.

On 25 minutes a fine El Bakhtaoui run up the right ended with a great cross into the box and Louis Longridge released a powerful attempt that was only kept out by Parry diving in to make a painful block. Definitely the best chance of the match this far.

Higginbotham earned the first corner of the game on the half hour but Muirhead’s setpiece from the right did not create any danger with Thomson firing a loose effort well wide. Two minutes later Murtagh cut down Higginbotham for a Dunfermline free kick midway inside the Wood half but Lee Ashcroft could not reach high enough to connect with Muirhead’s diagonal ball.

There had been few chances in the first half for either side to affect the score line and everyone who had made the long journey south hoped that they would see goals in the second half to avoid a penalty shoot out.

Half time: Boreham Wood 0 Dunfermline Athletic 0

The second half was not two minutes old before El Bakhtaoui has an attempt, but sadly wide. Sorba Thomas raised the hopes of the home fans with a strong run up the right but Ashcroft dealt with his cross. Then Femi Ilesanmi copied the idea getting up the left to cross and Halkett-Fairchild’s header went well over the bar. Boreham Wood kept up the pressure with Thomas again making ground up the right but his delivery caused no problems.

In just the eighth minute of the half Kallum Higginbotham was forced to retire and Myles Hippolyte came on in his place. The sub immediately got in a useful cross and then Muirhead crashed a shot on target that the captain, former Hibs player David Stephens headed away. Thomson latched on to the clearance but his well connected shot cleared the crossbar and went over the low wall out of the ground.

In 62 minutes Robinson slid out to deny Smith after Hackett-Fairchild had worked to be able to send in a low pass from the right corner flag. Three minutes later Muirhead tried to lift the ball over Jamal Fyfield just 20 yards out and the Pars were awarded a free kick. Raigen aimed his effort round the three man wall at the far post but his the chest of Shakes.

Malaury Martin replaced Joe Thomson as the match entered its final quarter and the National League side withdrew Shaibu to bring on their number nine, Josh Umerah.

Muirhead forced a 70th minute corner off Murtagh but unfortunately that was headed clear by the big defence. Robinson did well to get above the towering challengers at a 73rd minute corner. Then at another just two minutes later Murtagh’s low delivery from the right was left for Smith to strike narrowly over.

Aidan Connolly came on for Louis Longridge before a 76th minute corner. Martin’s cross goal attempt was turned behind for another and this time Martin’s cross dropped for Mark Durnan at the far lost. His strike was blocked and Vincent smashed a return from 20 yards out that went wide.

There was increasing urgency shown by both sides as the time ran out. Vincent’s 81st minute shot yielded only a corner and when Martin sent that in from the right the defence headed clear. A Hippolyte ball in from the right didn’t quite reach Muirhead and next Connolly popped a cross in from the left but that was easy meat for the former Arsenal keeper.

With 88 minutes gone Hippolyte picked out Connolly on the right but clean through on goal, his shot was saved by the keeper and then Vincent came close to catching a cross in front of Ryan Huddart. There were three added minutes at the end and it was the Fifers who pushed the hardest but neither side could break the deadlock.

Full time: Boreham Wood 0 Dunfermline 0

The match was decided on penalties taken at the end where most of the Pars fans were located.

1. Malaury Martin scores high left: 1-0
2, Kieran Murtagh scores keeper goes other way: 1-1
3. James Craigen nets to the right: 2-1
4. Josh Umeragh scores to keepers left: 2-2
5. Myles Hippolyte scores low left footed effort to right post: 3-2
6. Jamal Fyfield scores with left footed to right: 3-3
7. Faissal El Bakhtaoui nets sending keeper wrong way: 4-3
8. Femi Ilesanmi smashes home: 4-4
9. Aidan Connolly left footed nets: 5-4
10. Recto Hackett-Fairchild low to left: 5-5
11.Robbie Muirhead left footed drive low left: 6-5
12. Connor Smith hits crossbar and ball rebounds out: 6-5

As if pre arranged the sun came out and the journey back home suddenly looked much brighter.
BOREHAM WOOD: Ryan Huddart: Femi Ilesanmi, Ricky Shakes, David Stephens, Immanuel Parry, Kieran Murtagh, Jamal Fyfield, Connor Smith, Sorba Thomas, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, Justin Shaibu (Josh Umerah 68).
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Ricketts, Jack Gibbs, Dan Creese, Alex Morgan, Fred Burbidge (GK).

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: James Craigen, Lee Ashcroft (c), Mark Durnan, Jackson Longridge: Kallum Higginbotham (Myles Hippolyte 54), James Vincent, Joe Thomson (Malaury Martin 68), Robbie Muirhead: Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Louis Longridge (Aidan Connolly 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Ryan, Lewis McCann, Cammy Gill (GK).

REFEREE: Evan Boyce
WEATHER: Cloudy 18C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Alloa Athletic, Saturday 15th September 2018, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park.

Half time draw ticket number 05491 won £80

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