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Northwood 2  Soham Town Rangers 1

Saturday 2nd April 2011

  • Line-ups
  • Match Report
  • Photos

Northwood
Zamaretto League
Chestnut Avenue, Northwood
Soham Town Rangers
Sam Styles
1
Kick Off
1
Dan Bircham
Scott Raper
2
3.00 p.m.
2
Alex Austin
Craig Vargas
3
Attendance
3
Andrew Coleman
Liam Fowler
4
128
4
Martin Bromwich
Peter Lyall
5
H/T
5
Jake Gillingwater
Mark Burgess 
6
1-1
6
Michael Simpson
Rob Ursell
7
Scorers
7
Deakan Napier
Kevin Wynter
8
Northwood
8
Scott Carter
Oliver Hawkins
9
Orphanou 35, Lansiquot 64
9
Rob Foster
James Bent 
10
10
Tom Benjamin
Scott Orphanou 
11
Soham
11
Declan Rodgers
Substitutes
Foster 18
Substitutes
Ryan Tackley (3, 77m)
12
Bookings
12
Ryan Cotton (3, 83m)
Aaron Lansiquot (9, 53m)
14
Northwood
14
Rogam McGeorge (10, 67m)
Sam Sharples (6, 30m)
15
Wynter
15
Luke Hipwell
Aaron Silcott
16
Soham
16
Richard Gammon (9, 74m)
Romaine Walker
17
n/a
17
Sean Lines
 
 
RIVERSIDE MAN OF THE MATCH:
xxx
 
 
Referee: Mr Steve Tomlinson

Assistants: Mr Brian Murdoch
& Mr Simon Maynard



Days are now lighter, spring has broken, and there is a new found optimism around Chestnut Avenue. Perhaps Northwood are turning a corner and perhaps it is just coincidental that the cold and gloomy winter months have subsided and maybe, just maybe this has signalled a new beginning for Northwood Football Club, whose success on the field has been few and far between all campaign.

It was mentioned in the programme, that Chairman Ian Barry was reluctant to get rid of Steve Hale, but it had to be done for the good of the club. What a good decision that could turn out to be, unfortunately the luck wasn’t with Hale during his time as manager at the club and his unhappy stay in the hot seat came to an end last week. Gary Meakin stated in his programme notes - in his first home game as manager – that he has had a “hectic” week, and he didn’t have to think twice about leaving Hillingdon Borough to restart his association with Northwood for a fourth time, the three previous times as a player.

He has already broken a record, becoming Northwood’s youngest ever manager at just 27 years old, but this is a man with enthusiasm, confidence and desire to bring the glory days back to Northwood – that is a long way away, but tiny steps are essential in realizing that dream. For now, avoiding relegation is a must.

Northwood came into the game against Soham Town Rangers off the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat away at play off chasing Rugby Town at Butlin Road, last week. Northwood missed a number of opportunities and probably deserved to come away with something, but football can be a cruel game. It was a lesson well learnt in Meakin’s first game in charge.

Meakin would have known prior to the game that Soham have been on a good run, unbeaten in five, the pinnacle of that a 5-1 demolition job of high flyers Aylesbury – Northwood’s opponents in two weeks time! The Woods started excellently, passing the ball well, with the intention of piling on early pressure.

Sometimes starting a game well is a necessity and can swing the game into your hands. It was definitely a winnable game as 21st met 17th, but on the evidence of last week’s display had Meakin instilled a new found confidence into his players? It was a frenzied opening, with both sides playing neat passing football on a sunny afternoon at Chestnut Avenue. Soham, themselves are by no means safe but have a bit of momentum, something they would have been eager to continue today.

Soham forced the game’s first meaningful opportunity, Scott Carter’s volley only just went over Sam Styles’ crossbar at the ‘Car Park End’. Peter Lyall (Northwood’s skipper after arriving from Hillingdon), partnered Liam Fowler in the Northwood defence and both were largely resolute all afternoon, snuffing out most of Soham’s attacking threat - especially the dangerous Rob Foster. But it was that man Foster who opened the scoring on 17 minutes. A scrappy period in the midfield area ended with the ball at the feet of Deakan Napier who quickly released the overlapping Soham winger – Sam Styles tried to narrow the angle by coming out but Rob Foster was the grateful recipient of the ball across the box to tap into an empty net.

Northwood teams in the recent past would have crumbled, and probably would have gone on to lose 3 or 4-0. However, Northwood’s response was near perfect, continuing to play with an excellent tempo, and continuing their threaded passes around a cut up playing surface. Oliver Hawkins, who must be over 6 ft was, as expected, the main target man winning lots of aerial balls and providing many crossing opportunities. The next goal would be pivotal. And it was Northwood who looked most likely to score it, Rob Ursell, returning to Northwood after a previous spell was dangerous all afternoon, and he was involved in the equaliser. The ball was bobbling around by the goalmouth and Soham failed to clear, and the potent Scott Orphanou – a substitute last weekend – was on hand to steer the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal past Dan Bircham in the Soham goal – to send the Northwood supporters into raptures.

Ian Benjamin, the Soham boss, was urging his side to squeeze closer together after Northwood had won the restart fairly quickly. Mark Burgess pulled up with what looked to be a hamstring injury and was replaced by Sam Sharples in the midfield. Soham were possibly looking for a smash and grab raid, well one thing on their minds was when the half time whistle was going to be blown. Northwood looked a different team from a few weeks ago, playing with confidence, and it appeared there was a sense of belief back in the squad. Northwood didn’t want the half time whistle to go, it’s an old cliché that sometimes a break can have a negative effect because you can lose focus – Meakin would have undoubtedly been drilling that into his side at the interval.

The Woods started the second half as they had ended the first. This was epitomised when motivational midfielder James Bent shot wide after some nice build up play. Soham had a half chance from a free kick which Foster blasted into the cemetery behind the goal, little things make big differences although it was from a difficult angle. Soham were gaining self belief once again and almost retook the lead when Sam Styles made a wonderful acrobatic reflex save to deny the advancing Napier, who must have thought he’d scored, only for his stinging shot to be palmed away by the ex Oxhey Jets man. From the resulting ball came another opportunity, the overhit cross was picked up on the left hand side by Andrew Coleman, whose cross was missed by Styles. It was bundled towards goal only for James Bent to somehow hook it to safety, whether it would have counted was debatable, as the referee Steve Tomlinson awarded a free-kick in favour of the home side.

Substitutions often change games – for the better or for worse. This was a great example of the former. Huge striker Hawkins – another addition from Meakin’s former club Hillingdon, was replaced by new signing Aaron Lansiquot. His first act was to control a loose ball and play it down the flank for Ursell. Lansiquot looked lively, his pace unquestionably a major asset for Northwood, something The Woods have lacked all season. He was involved in a move that should have ended with Orphanou wheeling away in celebration but ended with gasps and disappointment, Orphanou was inside the 6 yard area but dragged his shot wide. There was anticipation that Northwood may be able to nick this game, and that optimism was justified when Ursell flicked a ball over the top and Lansiquot the substitute squeezed the ball in between the post and through the goalkeeper to turn the game around. 2-1 to Northwood, but there was still a whole 26 minutes to play. The test for Northwood was to seal the game and ensure that the foundations in the defence stayed intact – something that hasn’t often happened this season.

Northwood should have extended their lead when first Orphanou – who again cut across his shot – was unable to convert, and then Lansiquot shot straight at Bircham after being put through one on one. Soham were upping the tempo and there was urgency about them, balls were being pumped forward into the danger area again and again, testing Northwood’s resilience. The back four of Raper, Lyall, Fowler and Vargas, three of which are new signings were impressive as was goalkeeper Sam Styles who made a couple of good saves to keep Northwood’s lead intact. It was definitely a time where nails were getting torn apart by anxious supporters, who were very vocal in trying to urge their team to focus. Northwood’s home record has been atrocious all season, winning just 4 times up until now, could they hold on? The defensive aspect of Northwood’s game was always liable to improve as Meakin was a defender himself during his playing days.

The sun was shining and supporters of both sides knew how pivotal this game could be in determining where they finish. Soham are by no means safe. Northwood have only won one of the previous 13 games, and this could be a match where both clubs look back and say this is where we turned a corner, this was the start of something, and we must hope that is the case. When the final whistle sounded there were a number of emotions flying around. Joy for Gary Meakin in his first home game in charge, despair for the players and fans of Soham Town Rangers Football Club, relief for the players and fans of Northwood Football Club, and optimism. The Woods were looking up as opposed to down, and a new bubble of encouragement and belief has immersed itself around the Northwood FC complex. There are now optimistic thoughts and not pessimistic ones pumping through the fans veins. Perhaps there is life within the club and that a season to forget could end on such a good note.

Tougher challenges await both in the last seven games of the campaign as Northwood look to cement their place within the Zamaretto League Central Division, and in the months to come after the season reaches its inevitable conclusion. There was something different about today’s performance, that despite there being nine new faces in the squad, they are all prepared to fight for everyone and everything, that hasn’t always been in evidence this season. Let’s cross our fingers and hope they can muster points between now and the climax of the season in three weeks, survive and look forward again. Because for the first time in a long time, everyone associated with Northwood in some capacity has a good reason to smile!

Report by MATT FORD

Photos by James Brown