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Northwood 1  North Greenford 1

Monday 2nd January 2012

  • Line-ups
  • Match Report
  • Photos

Northwood
EvoStik Southern League
Chestnut Avenue, Northwood
North Greenford
Mitch Swain
1
Kick Off
1
Aaron Bufton
Scott Raper
2
3.00 p.m.
2
Nathan Fearon
Ronayne Marsh-Brown
3
Attendance
3
Sean Roberts
Lee Grant
4
142
4
Nick Turner
Reece Yorke
5
H/T
5
Danny Bennell
John Christian
6
0-0
6
Sean Hillier
Jack Hutchinson
7
Scorers
7
Jack Duffy
Craig White
8
Northwood
8
Wayne Jackson
Ben Alexander
9
Morlese 94
9
Ricky Pither
Garry Senior
10
N Greenford
10
Aaron Samuel
Romaine Walker
11
Pither 57
11
Zak Joseph
   Substitutes
Bookings
Substitutes
Liam Fowler
12
Northwood
12
Mark Nicholls (6, 91m)
Sam Sharples
14
Hutchinson, Christian
14
Callum Roberts (10, 79m)
James McCluskey (7, 61m)
15
N Greenford
15
Jack Sikora
Kurt Morlese (9, 72m)
16
Jackson, Joseph, Bufton, Nicholls
16
-
Kyle Matthews (2, 81m)
17
17
-
 
 
RIVERSIDE MAN OF THE MATCH:
xxx
 
 
Referee: Mr Chris O'Donnell

Assistants: Mr Michael Barnes
& Mr Olly Spillett



Victory away against Bedworth United on New Year’s Eve saw Northwood climb to 5th place as they began 2012 within the play-off places. Their visitors, North Greenford United, unveiled a new management team of ex Chelsea, Wimbledon and Crystal Palace striker Neil Shipperley as manager and his former Chelsea team-mate Mark Nicholls as his assistant. Nicholls had two spells as a Northwood player in the 2003/04 and 2006/07 seasons, making 40 appearances. United would have been buoyed by  a 1-1 draw with AFC Hayes on Boxing Day, however they still remained at the wrong end of the table.

Northwood made one change from the victory over Bedworth United: with forward Oliver Hawkins unavailable it gave an opportunity for Ben Alexander to start alongside ex North Greenford striker Garry Senior. Jonathan Constant again missed out due to a recurring ankle injury.

The hosts started well with an encouraging run by Jack Hutchinson forcing an early corner. The corner by Romaine Walker found Hutchinson whose pile driver wasn’t far from hitting the target. Then an interchange of passes between skipper Ronayne Marsh-Brown and Walker again forced a corner, giving Northwood a good opportunity to throw bodies forward. The resulting ball in was well dealt with by ex Wood goalkeeper Aaron Bufton. Another exchange of passes followed as Hutchinson and Senior combined well to play in Walker but again, Northwood had to settle for a corner.

Finally, Shipperley’s side came to life as a neat through ball found Ricky Pither but Mitch Swain – who has kept three clean sheets in his last five matches – was alert to the danger and raced out to collect. Subsequently the dangerous Zak Joseph raced clear down the right hand side and delivered a nice looking ball in, however Lee Grant cut it out well at the expense of a corner kick.

Soon after, Northwood were rampaging forward again, and a one two between Marsh-Brown and Senior saw the Woods captain find room out wide. Cutting inside, he delicately chipped it for Alexander but he had the presence of several defenders around him, and ultimately he could only get a tame header towards the target. From the clearance by ‘keeper Bufton, Joseph was causing problems once more for the Woods back line. The tricky winger cut inside, and without the intervention of Marsh-Brown it might have got worse for the home side. The hard working full back stuck a leg out to block the shot, and then appeared to fall awkwardly. A few minutes with physio Chad Smith and Marsh-Brown returned to the action, to the relief of the Northwood party. The ex Harrow Borough defender then showed that the events of the previous play were not getting to him as he sprinted down the left, whipping in a decent delivery which Senior met, however the ball never threatened the United goalkeeper as it trickled wide.

Sarcastic cheers then followed as the linesman who had upset a section of the home support by not flagging for an earlier infringement, did so, awarding Northwood the free kick. Craig White received the short pass from the right flicking it cleverly over the visitors defence to Alexander who was onside, however he couldn’t make meaningful contact as again Bufton collected. Some minutes later, and Northwood were presented with their best chance yet to take the lead. Alexander got the better of Nick Turner and rounded Bufton well. Despite being forced out wide, he got an effort away which clipped the left post, rebounding to Senior who must have thought he’d scored, only for goal line intervention by left back Sean Roberts.

What followed could only be described as ‘poor refereeing’. White’s ball was headed towards goal by Grant. On the way it struck the arm of Danny Bennell before falling to the feet of Alexander who curled home. Just as the Northwood contingent were about to start celebrating, referee Chris O’Donnell controversially didn’t allow the advantage, and instead pulled it back for a penalty. In the absence of Constant (the regular penalty taker), up stepped Senior for the spot-kick, but he was thwarted by a strong left hand save from Bufton. The rebound by Walker went into orbit. No one in the ground could understand the decision, but the verdict stood and the home side were left frustrated.

Joseph roamed clear once more and his cross which was aimed at another ex Wood in the form of  Jack Duffy was behind him, clipping his heels and ultimately enabling Reece Yorke to get a clearance away. Then Northwood’s pacy winger Walker weaved himself inside of a couple of defenders. He then slotted the ball diagonally to Christian who hit his effort wide. That proved to be the last action of the first forty-five minutes as both sides went back to the dressing rooms with the scores level at 0-0.

Woods started the second period the brighter of the two sides, and Walker once more found space hitting a low shot which was collected comfortably by Bufton. Then the Blues hit the hosts on the break as Aaron Samuel ran clear, feeding yet another ex Northwood man in Wayne Jackson, who steadied himself on the edge of the area and hit a powerful shot which had Swain rooted to the spot. Jackson’s effort hit the bar and went out of play for a goal kick, to the relief of Gary Meakin’s side. Northwood had fallen asleep and it almost cost them.

North Greenford were then on the offensive moments later, as for a second time Northwood were caught napping. Samuel found himself through, one on one with Swain however he blasted over the stand and into the car park. It didn’t matter too much though, as United were again seeking a goal and this time they got it. The hard working Joseph got the better of Marsh-Brown and rolled the ball across for Pither, who mirrored the goal he scored back in October in the Middlesex Senior Cup, and gave his side the lead tapping home beyond a helpless Swain. It was only North Greenford’s ninth away goal of the season. Northwood captain Marsh-Brown had a rush of blood to the head, making his frustration known about a goal that he thought should have been flagged for offside. Perhaps he had a case, but fortunately the experienced left-back only received a yellow card for dissent.

Woods then very nearly drew themselves level immediately as Alexander was played in by Christian striking his effort on the half volley which only just sailed past the left upright. Meakin responded by taking off Hutchinson and throwing on James McCluskey. Walker’s free kick flashed wide, which was then followed by a quick interchange of passes between Senior and Alexander, with the latter’s effort being blocked on the goal line. The flag however had been raised for offside, so had it gone in, it wouldn’t have counted. A few brief minutes later and Joseph again beat off the challenge of Marsh-Brown but - to the disappointment of the United supporters who made the journey – he fired high and wide. White then fed Senior who played the role of Hawkins’ by holding up the ball for Christian who attempted to place his shot, however he didn’t get enough direction and hit it with too much power as it screamed wide.

Northwood then made their second substitution, replacing the hard working Alexander with Kurt Morlese. Northwood were seeing plenty of possession and without a doubt were very dominant, yet they still trailed. One word which could sum up the performance would be wasteful, as they created an abundance of opportunities, thus far not finding the goal which would draw them level. James McCluskey then tested Bufton from a free kick as he clambered across to parry clear. Walker’s shot almost crept into the corner however it was blocked by Turner. Hopeful appeals for handball were waved away after Christian had let rip and then McCluskey slashed at the ball and it went horribly wide.

Then came a moment to remember. For the first time in seventeen long months, Kyle Matthews made his long awaited return at Chestnut Avenue, as he came on for Scott Raper. An attacking change from Meakin, who was desperate for an equaliser.
It appeared Northwood were suffering a hangover from the win on New Year’s Eve, as first Jackson hit an audacious effort in a bid to seal the points, which was followed by Pither – the goalscorer – who also slammed his shot over the bar. Another free kick followed which was again taken by McCluskey and although it rocketed into the wall, Woods could take some consolation as they won a corner. As the corner was delivered, Senior rose and connected, albeit flicking it straight into the clutches of Bufton.

In a bid to eat away at the clock, United’s assistant manager Nicholls came on for Pither. He immediately gave a free kick away. As a result, Marsh-Brown stormed forward and found Walker, who did well to get to the by-line. He cleverly crafted his way inside and curled a cross towards Morlese, who connected and met it with enough power to beat Bufton, who could only lie motionless on the ground. Northwood had equalised in the 94th minute of time!

That proved to be the last kick of the game, which proved to be eventful for a number of reasons. Northwood keep their unbeaten run going, albeit they will feel frustrated for not winning a game in which they created enough chances, and on paper should have ended with them celebrating three points as opposed to one. Credit must go to North Greenford United, who looked organised and did cause the Woods some problems, especially on the break. Northwood miss the chance to claim their first ‘double’ of the season, however they welcome AFC Hayes (who lie level on points in 6th place) on Saturday to Chestnut Avenue, as they look to keep their impressive run going!

As usual after the final whistle, manager Gary Meakin gave his thoughts on the match. He was asked about why Northwood saw much of the ball, yet couldn’t create the decisive opportunity. “I would disagree with that, we lacked a little bit in the final third, but I guess it was just one of those days. We could play that game another ten times and I guarantee we would win nine of those.”

He was also asked about whether judging by both sides league positions (5th vs 20th) should Northwood have won the game, and how much their new management team contributed to the draw. “It gives them impetus as they are trying to impress the new manager. I think it was a case of we did not win, rather than them drawing.”

He was then asked about how having scored deep into stoppage time, the result must feel like a win. “I have to disagree with that, too. It is great to keep the unbeaten run going, but we did not win. It was a team we should beat and I guess by scoring we were just letting out the frustration.”

On top of that Meaks was also asked about whether things needed to improve between now and Saturday’s home game versus AFC Hayes. “Not too much does, to be honest. As I said it was just one of those days. We could have had less chances, have played worse in another game and still won.”
Finally Meakin was questioned about whether it nice to see the long awaited return of Kyle Matthews after so long out with a serious injury. “It was very pleasing. He has worked hard, all the work he has done has not just been with the team, it has also been the hard work he is put in which many of us do not get to see. He is a great asset for us, and it is very good for the team to have him back. A lot of people do not realise how good he is because they have not had the opportunity to see him play, let’s hope he can continue his progress.”

Report by MATT FORD

Photos to follow...

Photos by James Brown