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MATCH REPORTS 2005-06

Southern League Premier Division

Northwood Line-up

1

Adam Federici

 

2

Dave Nolan

 

3

Frazer Toms +

 

4

Max Howell

 

5

Jason O'Connor

 

6

Luke Garrard

 

7

Dean Clark

 

8

Billy Matthews

 

9

Matthew Judge

 

10

Peter Dean

 

11

Ian Savage *

 

Substitutes

12

Paul Kelly *

 

14

Alistair Heselton

 

15

Gavin Hart

 

16

Harry Howell

 

17

Leigh Harrington +

 

 Northwood 0  Rugby Town 0 

Report by Robin Piper 

Northwood had to settle for the point after they failed to break down a stubborn Rugby rearguard in an entertaining encounter at Chestnut Avenue.

As is customary these days, there were a number of new faces on show for Woods. Matthew Judge, on loan from Dagenham, formed a new strike partnership with Peter Dean, whilst there was a place on the bench for former Hendon midfielder Paul Kelly, having signed from Kings Lynn during the week. The defence had a new look due to the suspension of Fergus Moore and the return of Matt Ruby to Woking: Billy Matthews and Jason O’Connor making their league debuts in a three man defence alongside Dave Nolan, while Frazer Toms was preferred to Leigh Harrington in the left wing-back role.

Rugby carried the early threat, Kevin Slinn going close in the opening minute, hooking the ball wide after keeper Adam Federici had failed to deal with a high ball into the box, before live wire striker David Stone, who was a constant threat all afternoon, was denied by a last ditch Nolan tackle as he bore down on goal, Matthews following up to clear the danger.

However, Woods responded well with Matthew Judge making an early impression in attack. Firstly he combined well with Dean Clark before aiming his shot too close to Rugby keeper Farhad Afandiyev before the latter was on hand once again to deny the Woods striker after a strong run and shot.

While both sides were enjoying plenty of possession, it was the visitors who were creating the better chances. Adam Federici was called upon to deal with efforts from Stone, Slinn and Steve Evans while Slinn saw a header cleared off the line.

Northwood stood firm and they finished the half strongly. Judge saw his glancing header sail wide of the far post following Clark’s free kick, Dean tested Afandiyev with a shot from distance while the Rugby custodian brought off a fine save to tip Dean’s curling effort over the bar after the Woods’ striker had made a surging run into the box.

Northwood had to make a change early in the second half, new skipper Ian Savage being replaced by Kelly, who took his place alongside Luke Garrard in the centre of midfield, and the new signing settled in well with a composed display.

Woods were gradually beginning to wrest the initiative. Dean’s over-head kick from Clark’s free-kick was dealt comfortably with by Afandiyev while Judge skilfully created space for himself before firing his shot wide of the goal.

Leigh Harrington replaced the injured Toms midway through the half as Northwood continued to press. Judge displayed another moment of individual skill in beating his marker before firing a fierce 25 yard half-volley inches over.

Despite enjoying territorial advantage, too often the quality of Northwood’s final ball was lacking, the greatest threat continuing to come from long range efforts, with Garrard trying his luck on a couple of occasions.

However, Northwood produced a rousing finish which was worthy of the three points. Dean was the first to be denied, seeing his header from Max Howell’s cross tipped over by Anfandiyev while Garrard’s shot was cleared off the line after a quick Clark free-kick almost caught Rugby unawares.

But with the match deep into stoppage time Woods had their best chance of the afternoon. Keeper Afandiyev could only parry Dean’s low shot from the edge of the box, Clark following up with the goal at his mercy, but the Rugby keeper capped a fine game by deflecting the Woods’ midfielders shot onto the upright and dashing Northwood’s hopes of a much needed victory.