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Northwood 0  Fleet Town 0

Saturday 10th March 2012

  • Line-ups
  • Match Report
  • Photos

Northwood
EvoStik Southern League
Chestnut Avenue, Northwood
Fleet Town
Mitch Swain
1
Kick Off
1
Ryan Pryce
Kwasi Frempong
2
3.00 p.m.
2
Gareth Byres
Lee Grant
3
Attendance
3
Harry Bowles
Liam Fowler
4
129
4
Leigh Rumbold
Reece Yorke
5
H/T
5
James Scott
Sam Sharples
6
0-0
6
Craig Davis
Wayne O'Sullivan
7
Scorers
7
James Pilgrim
Craig White
8
Northwood
8
Patrick Cox
Oliver Hawkins
9
n/a
9
Danilson Vicente
Spencer Bellotti
10
Fleet
10
James Taylor
Jonathan Constant
11
n/a
11
Claudio Herbert
   Substitutes
Bookings
Substitutes
Harry Wright
12
Northwood
12
Luke King (11, 46m)
James McCluskey (8, 51m)
14
Sharples, O'Sullivan, Hawkins, McCluskey
14
Luke Hutchings (3, 46m)
Adamson Ajayi (10, 76m)
15
15
Louis Wilson
Romaine Walker (11, 44m)
16
Fleet
16
Kevin Wynter
Garry Senior
17
Rumbold, Scott, Davis, King
17
Tom Allen (8, 82m)
 
RIVERSIDE MAN OF THE MATCH:
xxx
 
 
Referee: Mr Andy Mead

Assistants: Mr Karl Tribe
& Mr Paul O'Hare



Having narrowly edged out basement side Marlow 3-2 on Tuesday evening, Northwood should have expected much of the same as Fleet Town made the journey to Chestnut Avenue, as they bid to keep themselves in the Division come the 28th April. Fleet led three times in midweek but had to settle for a 3-3 draw with AFC Hayes, while the hosts were fortunate to gain maximum points as Spencer Bellotti’s first Woods goal five minutes from time kept the home side in play-off contention.

On a pleasant afternoon, it was Northwood who began the brighter, with Wayne O’Sullivan and Jonathan Constant combining well and it was the latter’s cross which teed up Bellotti who was denied by a covering defender, with his shot looking to be heading goalwards. Up the other end Fleet got their first effort of the afternoon away, albeit this one didn’t even force Mitch Swain into a save as it cantered away harmlessly.

Northwood’s next attack saw centre half Liam Fowler get into an unusual area of the field as he whipped in a cross from the right flank and it forced some last ditch defending as top scorer Oliver Hawkins was arriving behind James Scott. And it was that man who was proving too much too handle as he was pushed aside by Gareth Byres at the expense of a free kick. A dangerous ball in by Constant cried out for someone to connect on the other end of it, yet unfortunately for the home side’s sake it had just a little too much fizz on it and Ryan Pryce saw it out of play.

Up the other end Fleet were playing with confidence and not that of a side in 21st place as they were getting into good areas of the field, though so far not finding the decisive ball. The visitors’ top scorer James Taylor then inadvertedly set Northwood up on the counter attack as he misplaced his pass and Constant weaved inside a couple of players before powerfully getting a shot away at a difficult angle, however this time, despite desperate pleas for a corner kick, the linesman was adamant that it had not taken a deflection on its way out and maintained that it was a goal kick. Moments later, the dangerous O’Sullivan again found room, and again found Bellotti, with the former Oxhey Jets striker seeing his effort denied by Pryce who clambered down well to turn it away. Then as the ball was delivered back in, Hawkins went for the spectacular with an overhead kick that was always rising.

After Fleet had given up possession, O’Sullivan was again on the rampage and he cut inside on his weaker left foot, and the attack looked promising but the end result was a scuffed shot which was comfortably claimed by Pryce. The tricky winger then apologised as it did appear he had a team mate better placed, nevertheless he decided to go alone though to no avail.

Northwood were upping the tempo and at the same time were reflecting their dominance by creating several chances. Bellotti linked well with Hawkins and the former almost connected but for an important intervention by Leigh Rumbold. Then the latter had to be on his toes once more as Constant delivered a beautifully weighted ball in and Hawkins connected well, except Pryce read the passage of play well and dived away to steer it past the left hand post. As a spectator you were getting the feeling that Northwood’s dominance would have to pay off at one stage, nonetheless the away side were remaining solid at the back. A brief time later and a swirling free kick by Constant had Pryce unsure as to whether to stay on his line or come for the ball. Bellotti unselfishly nodded it down for Craig White who must have thought he had done enough to score, but yet again Woods were thwarted by Pryce who was in inspired form all afternoon, holding on to the loose ball.

It didn’t stop there by way of chances as Constant again found himself in acres of space and he teased the Fleet skipper by roaming into the penalty area before going down. Referee Andy Mead waved away the half hearted appeals for a spot kick and play resumed. The half was entering its final stages and again O’Sullivan was denied by strong defending from the Blues back line. Northwood then suffered a blow as Constant hobbled off, Romaine Walker his replacement. The game was being played at a frenetic pace and there seemed real urgency about the hosts as they bombed forward, but the man in the middle cut it short as he blew for half time. Gary Meakin’s side will ponder how they didn’t go into the interval in front, and it was no exaggeration to say that Pryce was the sole reason behind Fleet remaining in the contest - the former Bournemouth goalkeeper made several key interventions.

Craig Davis tried to contain the home side’s dominance by bringing on two players at the interval, and they started the second period brightly enough, with one of the substitutes Luke King not too far away from getting his effort on target. Not too long after that and Meakin made his second change – again enforced – as White was withdrawn with a groin problem, on in his place came James McCluskey. Immediately the former Hanwell Town midfielder was involved as he found Walker. The young wide man was looking to instigate a breakthrough and he squared it for Sam Sharples - fortunately for the visiting outfit it never threatened.

Fleet were enjoying their best spell of pressure in the game, yet they could not back that up with chances as Northwood were looking well knit and organised at the back. How Northwood will miss Reece Yorke when he serves his one game suspension next Saturday away at Rugby Town, as he has formed a solid partnership with Fowler in recent times.

Northwood were desperately trying to penetrate Town but were struggling in the final third. It is fair to say the Woods were not as potent in the second period as the first. Perhaps the reason for this was O’Sullivan playing more central in the second forty five minutes. As a result Northwood did not have as much width as the first period. The home side were left to rue one crucial miss – the best chance of the second half – as Hawkins cleverly played it around the corner for Bellotti who beat the offside trap except he hit his shot straight at Pryce who raced out well to block the effort.

For the first time in the game, Walker did what he has done to great effect all season by leaving defenders in his wake. His brilliant run was quelled on the edge of the box though as he showed too much to Scott. The final Northwood substitution saw Bellotti replaced by Adamson Ajayi – the last throw of the dice for the Woods. It seemed like that change might well have paid dividends as he went on a storming run immediately and got an excellent cross in which was frantically cleared behind for a corner. Then Pryce was on his toes once more to deny Walker from about fifteen yards out, yet no one gambled on the follow up, but the frantic spell on the back foot for Fleet was eased somewhat by a free kick in their favour for a tug on a shirt.

There was still time for Fleet to almost inflict a sucker punch as an unmarked Taylor headed over from close range when he looked certain to find the net. Up the other end, Northwood were throwing hammer and tongs at the Fleet defence, with a clear instruction to go gung ho and all out for the win. They may well have got it had Hawkins continued his run into the box, with O’Sullivan whipping in a delicious cross, which, had the hard working striker got in front of his marker may well have headed home.

There was frustration from some sections of the home support after seeing the referee be very generous in awarding several 50/50 decisions to the away side, and seemingly allow blatant time wasting by the opposition to go unpunished. Notably a Fleet defender, who went down holding his face despite only being nudged aside. That proved to be the last slice of action on a decent afternoon of football, where the home side were a combination of unlucky and wasteful. However, having been fortunate the gain all three points on Tuesday, they may take solace in a point and a clean sheet today. Nevertheless, the visitors did dig in well and defended solidly but without question had their goalkeeper to thank for a point which could be as important in determining whether they stay up, as to whether Northwood get into the play-offs at the end of the season.

Northwood do deserve some mention for their endeavour and determination, as they fought right until the end but could not get the breakthrough they were searching for. No question who the Man of the Match was here. The tall Fleet goalkeeper Ryan Pryce single-handedly kept them in the contest in the first half with five or six saves, including three or four from close range. He commanded his area well and organised his defence in front of him, and did not put a foot wrong in the match. Pryce wasn’t called upon as much in the second period but still made two important stops from Spencer Bellotti and Romaine Walker, to ensure he kept his clean sheet intact and that his side returned to Hampshire with an all-important point.

After the conclusion of the game, Gary Meakin gave his thoughts on how the game unfolded. He was asked about whether he could believe that his side didn’t win the game. “No, it was one of those days, and that is why football is what it is. On Tuesday, Marlow deserved to come away with something but we won then, and today we deserved to win but didn’t. It evened itself out and I guess we did pick up four points.” He was also asked about whether after how close the Marlow game was, did his side expect another close affair. “They played well, but I told the guys before the game just to get back playing football, because we haven’t been ourselves in the past couple of weeks, and we got back to it today. We overplay sometimes and we just need to hit the back of the net.”

In addition, he was asked about the injuries that forced the withdrawals of Jonathan Constant (leg) and Craig White (groin) during the 90 minutes. “They’re fine. It was Constant’s bad leg, and it was only a precaution as he suffered the injury on the same bruise from a couple of weeks back. He just needed 10-15 minutes to calm it down. Yes, they’re both fine.”

And finally Meakin was asked about whether the difficult trip to Rugby Town next week is a must-win game if his side are to stay in play-off contention. “No, it’s more of a must not lose scenario. If we take away the opposition (Marlow are bottom, Fleet second bottom) we have picked up four points in two games, which is a good return, and if we were to do that all season (pick up two points a game), we would be in the mix. If you look at St Neots and Slough they probably pick up two points a game on average and if we can do the same between now and the end of the season, then who knows?”

Report by MATTHEW FORD

Photos by James Brown