Donnelly bends it like Beckham with two fine free kicks for Farnborough against Sutton United and Boreham Wood
When Scott Donnelly was asked which famous footballer’s name he wanted on the back of his shirt as part of the infamous and ultimately doomed Paddy Power sponsorship experiment at Farnborough FC, there was only one superstar who could possibly fit the bill.
Boyhood hero David Beckham made a name for himself at Manchester United, Real Madrid and England as one of the finest free-kick takers of his generation.
Now it appears the ex-England captain’s talents from dead ball situations are beginning to rub off on former Aldershot and Swansea City ace Donnelly, whose art of producing Beckham-esque magic from set-pieces is beginning to earn Farnborough a few admirers among their Skrill South rivals.
Donnelly followed up a superb 22-yard curling effort in the 3-3 draw at Sutton United last Saturday (September 14) with an even better strike against Boreham Wood on Tuesday night as his double helped Boro to a comfortable 2-0 victory, continuing their solid start to an otherwise fraught early-season campaign.
Typically, manager Spencer Day is not getting too excited with his side’s early form, but the Boro boss could not help but lavish praise on the playmaker, who he landed on a one-year contract in the summer.
“We knew bringing Scott in was a massive coup for this club and he’s beginning to show why,” Day said.
“If his free kick at Sutton was good then the one on Tuesday night was even better. It was a magnificent strike, as good as you will see at this level.
“It’s a really pleasing start for us. We are playing some scintillating football at the moment and creating a host of chances, but we have got to be more ruthless in putting them away.
“In all four games this season we have squandered chances to win us the game. We should have killed Boreham Wood off by half time on Tuesday night, let alone the number of chances we missed in the second half.
“As long as the game goes on at 1-0 you think to yourself ‘here we go again’. We’ve hit the bar, missed three one-on-ones and their keeper has made two fantastic saves.
"While it’s good that we are playing such great passing football and creating these chances, we need to make sure that we stick the ball in the net or we will get punished.”
Indeed, but for Donnelly’s piece of magic which put Boro in front on 25 minutes, Day’s men were in danger of letting Wood off the hook in wretched conditions with Dan Bennett and substitute Reece Connolly both missing glorious chances before Tyrone Berry saw an effort cannon off the crossbar.
But it was Donnelly who was handed the opportunity to wrap up the points for Boro in stoppage time – Connolly taken out in the box by Wood keeper James Russell and the midfield ace made sure from the penalty spot for his third goal in two games.
Day’s men were equally impressive when they locked horns with much-fancied Sutton on Saturday, more than playing their part in a six-goal thriller at Gander Green Lane which could have swung either way.
Dean Sinclair slid home to put the U’s in front on 33 minutes, only for Bennett to deservedly level for Boro within 90 seconds after good work from Dave Tarpey.
Donnelly’s fine curling free kick, which nestled in off the near post, put Boro in front just before half time, only for the home side to be harshly awarded a penalty on 71 minutes when a cross from ex-Farnborough favourite Dean McDonald struck the arm of Josh Huggins and Craig Dundas rifled home from the spot.
Sutton then rallied and went in front themselves with five minutes remaining when substitute James Foulkes slid home a cross from another ex-Boro man Dale Binns, but Boro were not to be denied and restored parity again three minutes later when Huggins volleyed home Donnelly’s corner.
Next up for Boro on Saturday is a tricky trip to Staines Town, who have won all four of their home encounters at Wheatsheaf Park this season.
Captain Alan Inns made a welcome return from suspension on Tuesday night and came through 80 minutes, although Day has a slight concern over striker Elvis Hammond, who came off on Tuesday night with a rib injury.
Meanwhile, Boro have been drawn away at league rivals Eastbourne Borough in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.