Everyone loves the magic of the FA Cup. Whilst it might be an old adage given the amount of money separating the Premier League from the rest of the English football pyramid, every now and then a club will emerge on a great run of form and cause a giant killing. And while Middlesborough and Nottingham Forest are still flying the flag for the Championship having reached the quarter-finals — playing Chelsea and Liverpool at home respectively — the story of Boreham Wood is quite remarkable.
Considering the Hertfordshire outfit ply their trade in the National League, although admittedly on the cusp of promotion to the EFL, they went on a journey redolent of a fairy-tale, culminating in defeat at Goodison Park against Premier League outfit Everton. While the 2-0 loss will leave Luke Garrard’s side wondering what could have been, they can take pride in their FA Cup achievement, something few would have expected when online betting. It was certainly a terrific run, one that will live long in the memory of those at Meadow Park.
The form table suggested that Boreham Wood could have pulled off an unlikely coup. Everton had been inconsistent under Frank Lampard whereas the non-league highflyers had beaten Bournemouth to earn their place in the fifth round. Scott Parker credited Garrad for his approach to the game but you get the sense the occasion got the better of them at Goodison.
Lampard had named an interesting starting 11 — one with a mixture of experience and youth. Still, there were several fully-fledged internationals playing against a side who have former builders and cleaners. Nile Ranger was the only member of the squad with any Premier League experience.
Salomón Rondón led the line for Everton and grabbed himself a second-half brace after some brave defending from Boreham Wood collectively kept the Toffees at bay until the interval. It looked as though the amount of big games had simply caught up with them, and their strength from the bench simply paled in comparison to Lampard’s options, who was able to bring on Séamus Coleman and Richarlison, as well as award some vital minutes to academy graduates like Reece Welch and Lewis Dobbin.
It wasn’t as though Everton had completely battered the National League side. There were certainly times where Boreham Wood stretched them on the break and caused some real headaches. Garrard praised Lampard for his efforts, but you could tell there was some regret that at least one of those chances failed to be converted.
“Did I think we were going to beat Everton? I thought we would have moments,” he said. “The team he [Frank Lampard] picked was tremendous, he has not disrespected us and we have given a great account of ourselves.”
“It has been a fairy-tale, we have gripped the nation’s hearts throughout this cup run and the moments at Bournemouth will live long in my memory. The fans have been colossal and they have been shouting all game. It has been brilliant, the whole journey from Barnet. Did I think five games on we would be at Goodison? Not in a million years.
“What we have achieved as a small-town club, let’s hope the fans turn up and really give us a push until the end of the season.”
Despite losing magnanimously, it is Everton who will face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the quarter-finals. You’d have to go back to 1995 for the last time a trophy made its way to Merseyside that didn’t have red ribbons attached, and regardless of any calamitous defending in the league, the magic of the FA Cup ensures Everton are only 90 minutes from Wembley.
As for Boreham Wood, their run will only boost the confidence of each and every player and fan of the club. It looks likely they’ll require the play-offs to reach the Football League, but judging by some of their performances, they’d definitely be a breath of fresh air.