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Leighton Town 5  Northwood 2 

Saturday 28th April 2012

  • Line-ups
  • Match Report
  • Photos

Northwood
EvoStik Southern League
Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard
Leighton Town
James Reading
1
Kick Off
1
Haydn Dodge
Scott Raper
2
3.00 p.m.
2
Sam Chapman
Warren Gladdy
3
Attendance
3
Jake Bewley
Lee Grant
4
135
4
Charlie Cunningham
Liam Fowler
5
H/T
5
Stuart Deaton
Kwasi Frempong
6
1-4
6
Sean Bishop
John Christian
7
Scorers
7
Ben Gallant
Craig White
8
Northwood
8
Enzo Silvestri
Spencer Bellotti
9
Christian 41,
Senior 86
9
Leon Simpson
Oliver Hawkins
10
10
Ross Hanley
Rob Ursell
11
Leighton
11
Lewis McBride
   Substitutes
Bewley 10, McBride 11, Hanley 15, Gallant 40,
Bishop 95
Substitutes
Romaine Walker (7, 46m)
12
12
Alex Bradley (9, 73m)
Wayne O'Sullivan (8, 46m)
14
14
Nick May
Adamson Ajayi
15
Bookings
15
Jamie Bather
Garry Senior (3, 60m)
16
Northwood
16
Lorenzo Green
Mitch Swain
17
n/a
17
Bradley Kirkwood
Leighton
 
RIVERSIDE MAN OF THE MATCH:
xxx
n/a
 
Referee: Mr Tony Power

Assistants: Mr Chris Williams
& Mr Paul O'Hare



Northwood's play-off dreams were blown away by a rampant Leighton side that carried on their recent impressive form with three goals in a five minute period early in the first half. The Woods knew before the game that they not only had to win this final game of the campaign but that rivals Beaconsfield Sycob also had to lose at home to lowly Daventry Town so they were far from favourites to qualify for the end-of-season knockout contest.

There was only one change made to the line-up that had started the previous weekend’s narrow win over Burnham, with the globetrotting Rob Ursell flying in from Cyprus to replace Romaine Walker.

After another morning of persistent rain, the worked-on pitch surface was heavy but it never appeared to affect the home side who were quickly into their stride and after ten minutes of midfield attrition, Leighton took the lead when left-back Jake Bewley lashed the ball from wide on the flank and it flew past a flailing James Reading to find the far top corner. Suddenly, the Woods defence was all at sea and just a minute later, when Sam Chapman crossed from the right it enabled Lewis McBride to clip the ball past Reading for a second goal.

Things got even worse after 14 minutes when another cross from the right picked out Enzo Silvestri in front of goal and though Reading managed to block his shot, he was unable to grab hold of the ball, and it ran loose for Ross Hanley to stab home from six feet and give Northwood a mountain to climb.

They needed to get back into the match with a goal before half-time and they worked hard to try to force the issue with Kwasi Frempong hitting a crisp 20-yard strike just over the bar and then Oliver Hawkins heading a Scott Raper cross just wide of the target. Ursell began to influence things a little, and he knocked in a couple of dangerous balls but Leighton’s defenders looked solid and cleared the danger on each occasion.

Northwood’s frustration was beginning to show, picking up a couple of unnecessary yellow cards before another Ursell free-kick presented Raper with a chance but his close-range header glanced wide and they had still not tested goalkeeper Haydn Dodge. The difficult became impossible after 40 minutes though when Leighton’s top scorer Ben Gallant broke down the right and skillfully skipped past Liam Fowler’s challenge to race towards goal, cut in and slot past the advancing Reading for a killer fourth goal.

Only then did Northwood get a goal back as just a minute later, Ursell’s cross was headed on by Spencer Bellotti and John Christian knocked the ball in from close-range to make it 4-1. On the stroke of half-time, Leighton nearly restored their four-goal cushion as Silvestri sidestepped Fowler and hit a shot that crashed back off the post.

Having heard that Daventry were leading at Beaconsfield, manager Gary Meakin knew something drastic was called for so he substituted two midfield players in Christian and Craig White and brought on the more creative Walker and Wayne O’Sullivan. But with the home side now more set on defending their zones, chances were restricted and the Woods never really threatened in the opening twenty minutes. In fact, it was Leighton that went closest with Silvestri seeing a good effort well saved by Reading on 59 minutes.

Northwood made their final substitution on the hour with striker Garry Senior replacing Warren Gladdy, who was close to talking himself into a red card but it wasn’t until the 68th minute that they notched their first on target attempt of the half with Dodge denying Bellotti’s effort. Leighton continued to look comfortable and never looked likely to allow the Woods back into the game despite Ursell’s probing and a couple of shouts for penalties fell on deaf ears.

It was after 86 minutes that they did finally pull a goal back as Raper headed on an Ursell free-kick and Senior flicked the ball past Dodge. As often happens on these occasions, Senior raced to get the ball back out of the net to get the game moving and was prevented from doing so by keeper Dodge who was lucky to avoid any punishment for his initial role in what then turned into a melee involving a number of players. It could have been worse than a yellow card apiece for the two teams.

Four minutes to go plus stoppage-time and, with Beaconsfield still losing 1-2 against Daventry, the Woods still needed three goals but they were finally creating chances and they were given an opportunity after Hawkins was fouled just outside the box. From the central free-kick, Walker got the ball up and over the wall but saw his shot crash back off the post and to safety.

And that was it for Northwood who had gambled on leaving gaps at the back and in the fifth and final minute of stoppage-time, the home side took full advantage when Sean Bishop crashed home a 25-yard shot into the top corner, giving Reading no chance and earning Leighton a deserved 5-2 final score.

With Beaconsfield losing, it was clearly an opportunity missed for the Woods who slipped behind Rugby Town and into a final position of seventh in the table but they can reflect on a successful season where they have surpassed all expectations in their league campaign, having beaten all but one of the top five teams.

They can now relax for a week and look forward to the end-of-season Middlesex Charity Cup Final scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday evening, 7th May, against Ashford at Wealdstone FC.

Report by ALAN EVANS

Photos by James Brown