Another goal by Sam Baldock, plus appearances for new goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and precocious talent Ravel Morrison were the stand-out moments from West Ham’s opening pre-season friendly on English soil last night.
Baldock had scored the Hammers’ only goal in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against Austria Vienna and playing up front largely on his own in the first half at Boreham Wood, he caused the home team plenty of problems.
First, he hit the base of the post from a first-time left foot shot, before he broke the deadlock on 27 minutes when Ricardo Vaz Te unselfishly laid the ball into his path and he struck a crisp shot into the corner of the net.
Manager Sam Allardyce, very much a peripheral figure on the night as he ambled around the Meadow Park ground signing autographs, opted to play two different teams in each half, providing a mix of youth and experience throughout.
There was plenty of experience from Jaaskelainen, who was forced to make two good saves in the opening 45 minutes as Boreham Wood showed that they were determined to make an impression in this match.
The Blue Square Conference South side were unlucky when Callum Reynolds headed over a corner when completely unmarked, while the Finland goalkeeper’s stops came from Graeme Montgomery and Mark Jones as the home side looked for the equaliser.
Leading 1-0 at the break, the Hammers made 11 changes and within six minutes of the restart, Boreham Wood were level.
Young defender Eoin Wearen saw his weak back pass intercepted by Omer Riza and when he squared it to giant substitute Inih Effiong, the striker beat Jake Larkins from just inside the box.
Morrison partnered Kevin Nolan in the midfield in the second half and both looked sharp, while Nicky Maynard played the lone striking role, with little success.
He did have one shot saved after latching on to Morrison’s pass, while he should have scored right at the death when Morrison’s long-ranger was parried into his path, only to stab the rebound wide.
Nolan came even closer a few minutes earlier. Matt Taylor’s cross from the left picked him out perfectly, but the skipper’s shot hit the ground and bounced up on to the bar.
Unfortunately, Boreham Wood did not possess goalline technology!
The home side came close themselves to snatching a winner when Reynolds had a shot well blocked, but in the end a draw was a fair result.
Assistant boss Neil McDonald declared himself happy with proceedings.
“It was a good workout and though it would have been nice to have won, it is not about results,” he said.
“This is all about building up the fitness, building up the endurance as well which we have been working on for the last week and a half.”
McDonald did have some words of praise for Morrison after his second-half showing.
“I think he is an exciting sort of player, especially when we have got the ball,” he said.
“He can play that final pass and drive on with the ball, which is certainly what you need in the Premiership. It was a good workout for him, another 45 minutes under his belt after 90 against Austria Vienna, so that is a good week for him and he has got to know the other players a little better.”
West Ham (first half): Jaaskelainen, Driver, McCartney, K Lee, Spence, Vaz Te, Moncur, Noble, Ruddock, Fanimo, Baldock.
Second half: Larkins, Chambers, Potts, Reid, Wearen, Turgott, O’Neil, Nolan, Morrison, Taylor, Maynard.