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Southern League Premier Division

Northwood 2  Merthyr Tydfil 3

Northwood Line-up


Lee Carroll



Max Howell



Fergus Moore



Dave Nolan



Luke Evans



Shayne Demetrious



Gavin Hart *



Chris Gell



Darren Grieves



Peter Dean



Ryan Kirkland




Harry Howell *



Richard McDonagh



Rob Bixby



Wayne Carter



Dean Lindsay




Demetrious 1-0


Dean 2-0

Report by Alan Evans

After a summer of upheaval at Chestnut Avenue, Northwood’s Southern League debut proved a real baptism of fire but, ultimately, ended in dismay. It promised to be a tough opener against Welsh visitors Merthyr Tydfil who had made the play-offs in each of the past two seasons. The Woods gave starting debuts to three new signings in Max Howell, Shayne Demetrious and Ryan Kirkland while two others, goalkeeper Lee Carroll and former skipper Chris Gell, were also returning to the club.

It was in midfield where Northwood won the early battles and they took the lead with just ten minutes on the clock as former Chelsea youngster Shayne Demetrious rifled home an unstoppable 30-yarder. It was just the start they wanted.

The Martyrs responded well with Dale Griffiths seeing his header pushed over by Carroll but the home side went further ahead after 24 minutes. Another strike by Demetrious was going wide but Peter Dean, ignoring offside calls, controlled it well and hit a crisp shot past goalkeeper Ashley Morris.

Merthyr worked hard to try to get back into the game but it was Northwood who almost made it 3-0 when Ryan Kirkland showed great control to turn in the box but then poked his shot wide.

Half-time: Northwood 2 Merthyr Tydfil 0

The visitors made a change at half-time with James Welsh replacing the ineffective giant striker Lewis Summers.

Northwood began the second period brightly and Gavin Hart broke on the left and sent over a tempting cross which failed to find a necessary touch. A few minutes later, after being put in by Gell, Hart went past the ‘keeper but flashed an angled shot across the face of the goal.

But Merthyr were beginning to get the upper hand as the half progressed and the Woods had to defend solidly to keep them out, Dave Nolan impressing in his makeshift role at centre-back. After 73 minutes, the Martyrs gave themselves a chance when Richard Ingram pounced on a Craig Steins cross from close-range. His shot was half-saved by Carroll but the ball had crossed the line and Luke Evans was unable to hook it out.

Time was running out though for the Welsh club and it seemed as if a deserved winning debut was on the cards for the Woods. That was until an 88th minute incident which changed the game. The visitors had a free-kick just outside the box and, as it was taken, the assistant referee instantly flagged for a penalty; an everyday push by a Northwood defender being adjudged as the heinous crime. No matter, skipper Mike Fowler neatly tucked away his gifted spot-kick to level the scores.

Stupidly, Woods substitute Harry Howell, only on for three minutes, then managed to get himself red-carded for an off-the-ball incident before play restarted and Merthyr sensed a chance to win the game as Northwood failed to reorganise. That chance came two minutes into stoppage-time. A deep cross was knocked in from the space left by the errant Howell on the flank and substitute Welsh met it with sweeping finish that sent the travelling hoards of supporters home happy. Less so the Northwood fans who could hardly believe the sudden, late turnaround in fortunes.

Referee: Ian Crouch

Star Woodman: Shayne Demetrious