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Northwood 3  Rugby Town 3

Saturday 19th November 2011

  • Line-ups
  • Match Report
  • Photos

Northwood
EvoStik Southern League
Chestnut Avenue, Northwood
Rugby Town
Derek Lewis
1
Kick Off
1
Pete Smith
Andrew Mensah
2
3.00 p.m.
2
Gary Moran
Ronayne Marsh-Brown
3
Attendance
3
Luke Leahy
Lee Grant
4
122
4
Nic Preston
Liam Hind
5
H/T
5
Michael Williams
Sam Sharples
6
1-1
6
Robbie Banks
Jack Hutchinson
7
Scorers
7
Aaron James
Craig White
8
Northwood
8
Andy Gunderlach
Oliver Hawkins
9
Hawkins 43, 67, Constant 66
9
Tyrone Fagan
Ben Alexander
10
10
Seb Hamilton
Kurt Morlese
11
Rugby
11
Luke Keen
   Substitutes
Leahy 16,
Hamilton 60, 84
Substitutes
Scott Raper
12
12
Richie Allen (8, 80m)
James McCluskey (10, 83m)
14
Bookings
14
Alex Auston (6, 11m)
Jonathan Constant (7, 33m)
15
Northwood
15
Jermal Wilson
Romaine Walker (11, 56m)
16
n/a
16
Lynval Da Costa (9, 77m)
Garry Senior
17
Rugby
17
 
n/a
 
RIVERSIDE MAN OF THE MATCH:
xxx
 
 
Referee: Mr Matt Eva

Assistants: Mr Ndoda Diamini
& Mr Jon Hollier



Having had their four match winning streak ended by league leaders Slough Town on Tuesday evening, Northwood set about trying to get back to winning ways as they welcomed Dave Stringer’s Rugby Town to Chestnut Avenue. Gary Meakin made a handful of changes from midweek with Liam Hind returning to the Woods in place of the absent Liam Fowler, Jack Hutchinson coming in for Jonathan Constant who slipped to the bench and Romaine Walker making way for Kurt Morlese – fresh after scoring Northwood’s second on Tuesday – who was looking to make the most of his first league start in the red and white of Northwood. Finally, Ben Alexander was preferred to Garry Senior up front.

Judging by the opening minutes of this clash, it appeared the hosts had a mini hangover from the loss in the week as they were giving the ball away on more than one occasion. Rugby who succumbed 1-0 to Daventry Town in their last outing, also had three points on their mind – even more so because they have failed to consistently win matches this term. For Town a bright start to the season had been quelled, although having seen Northwood go on an unbeaten run they would have been eager to conjure up something similar.

It was Rugby who had the first effort on goal. Luke Keen raced clear and fired an effort towards goal however Derek Lewis was there to claim it. The visitors were then on the offensive once more as Robbie Banks went shoulder to shoulder with Hind but it was the latter who was able to get there first as he took no chances and hoofed it away. That incidentally was Banks’ last action as he pulled up with what looked like a muscle injury and was replaced by substitute Alex Austin. Several times Rugby were building up a head of steam and hit Northwood on the break. It was from here that they looked most dangerous and Northwood looked most vulnerable. The hosts had a major let off when Tyrone Fagan sprinted clear and did well to get into a shooting position. Unfortunately for Rugby’s sake he sliced across his shot and it just crept over. Northwood were trying to muscle themselves into the game having seen the visitors enjoy the better of the action up until this point. Lee Grant, who has done exceptionally well slotting in a centre-half, played a delightful ball towards Ben Alexander who almost latched onto it, but Pete Smith, the Rugby goalkeeper, was able to scoop it up.

Rugby were looking sharper. That ultimately paid dividends as once again Northwood were caught napping on the break and Luke Leahy beat the offside trap finding himself one on one with Derek Lewis. The latter came out but Leahy cleverly dinked over a stranded Lewis to give Rugby Town the advantage. A deserved lead for the visitors and a goal that very much mirrored one scored by Slough Town on Tuesday night. Yet again this season Northwood had fallen behind in a game.

Northwood were upping the ante and were looking for an immediate response. Andrew Mensah, who has bombed forward on numerous occasions whilst playing the right back role, for the Woods did so for the first time in the game and by doing so he almost brought an equaliser. He was able to glide in and out of one or two challenges before unleashing a decent effort which was deflected behind for a corner. The resulting corner by the skipper Ronayne Marsh-Brown summed up Northwood’s half up until this point as he over hit it and it just sailed out for a throw. Northwood were not yet in their stride. The Woods almost found themselves 2-0 down when goal scorer Leahy got the better of Hind, but he got behind the ball a little too much as it went into orbit. The next phase in play was probably Northwood’s best of the first half. A free kick by Marsh-Brown had Smith unsure whether to come or stay on his goal line. In the end he did come and under pressure punched the ball away for a corner. The hosts were unable to find a target in a congested six-yard box, however Sam Sharples was able to pick up the ball out wide after being picked out by Hutchinson. He delivered a decent ball into the danger zone and after Oliver Hawkins had flicked it on, there was Craig White – a week on from scoring his second goal of the season – who unleashed a pile driver which hit a defender on the way to crashing against the woodwork.

Northwood then made an enforced substitution as Hutchinson pulled up with an impact injury. He was replaced by Constant. Woods were playing as they have done all season, with confidence and with a sharpness which has been the reason why they have started the campaign so brightly. Alexander’s knock down from a Marsh-Brown inswinger was met by White, but he wasn’t able to make a clean connection as the ball went over the bar. Then, moments later, Northwood were pressing forward again and Sharples’ slick delivery was controlled by Alexander who shot on the turn, though the effort didn’t have enough steam to beat Smith who clambered down well to make the stop. They say the best form of defence is to attack. Rugby were putting that theory to the test as they motored forward in search of a second, and they were inches away from getting it. Fagan showed great balance to keep Hind at bay and unleashed a rocket which crashed against the up right. However, the flag was raised, and had it gone in anyway, it wouldn’t have counted.

Yet again Rugby were causing problems with their wide men showing great speed to get in and behind the Woods back line. On this occasion this didn’t happen. Town opted for the aerial route and after Lewis attempted but did not get there, Fagan was first to react and he unselfishly set up Keen, but thankfully Grant was alert to the danger and he swiped to volley the ball to safety. Rugby could count themselves unfortunate for not adding to their sixteenth minute opener when after a corner was whipped in Keen was able to somehow get an attempt away on the turn, however Lewis was more than a match for it as he superbly got down and somehow tipped it onto the left post. Northwood were living dangerously.

After a frustrating forty minutes or so, Northwood perhaps against the run of play got themselves level. Lewis’ quick distribution forced a corner. Marsh-Brown delivered a delicious ball into the box, which was brilliantly met by Hawkins who powered home his fifth goal in sixth games. 1-1 and right on the stroke of half time!

Into the second half and Northwood began just like they ended the first. Quick, intricate passes complimented by a high tempo set them in the right direction. So much so that they should have been racing away in celebration but ultimately it ended with gasps and disappointment. A well timed through ball was met by Alexander but he hit it straight at Smith. Then, the Woods raced away again and Hawkins was on the end of a short cross by Constant. The former showed great strength and was able to shoot on the turn, nevertheless Smith was able to get himself behind the ball and make a decent save.

Rugby then saw their first action of the second period and it should have been them that put the ball into the back of the net. Northwood tried to play a high line and were caught out by Keen who stormed clear with only the keeper to beat, Lewis made himself big but the resulting lobbed attempt trickled to the left of the goal and wide. Meakin then made his second change, replacing Morlese with Walker.

Almost instantly, Northwood found themselves behind again, and what made it deeply frustrating was the way in which it came. Lewis’ attempted punch fell to Marsh-Brown, who should have put his foot through it. Instead, he tried to find Constant but Keen was able to stick a leg out and block the clearance. It subsequently fell back to the feet of Keen and he fired across to Fagan. He then rolled the ball to Hamilton, who simply could not miss as he steered it home. The visiting faithful were vocal again and the Valley had their noses in front once more.

Alexander then had another effort towards goal but it was blocked. Rugby Town were very much energized as a result of their goal and were bombing forward with every attack. The next two minutes changed the complexity of the game. Northwood’s equaliser came from something out of nothing. So many times over the past year or so it has been the Woods who have been on the end of such misfortune, so it was sweet to be able to reverse this, though in truth it was the stroke of luck the hosts required. Jonathan Constant, after roaming forward, realised he had little options available to him, and he unleashed more in hope than anything. His shot ricocheted off the keeper Smith and rolled kindly into the back of the net. 2-2 after 66 minutes and we had a game on our hands. Literally straight from the restart, Rugby were in a state of shock and handed over the reins of possession. Constant broke free down the left and fired a ball for Hawkins, who showed incredible strength and balance to evade the defender and place a superb effort past the helpless Smith to score his second of the afternoon and in addition to that give the Woods the lead. 3-2, two goals in a minute, and Northwood were in front for the first time in the match. Time and time again the Woods have shown incredible spirit to muscle themselves back into the game from losing situations.

Constant then had a free kick deflected wide for a corner as the home side looked to seal the three points. Something they did not do. After committing men forward again and again they were unable to add to their tally. In the end it was the visitors who added to their tally as they equalised with barely six minutes remaining. Another late goal; something that has plagued Northwood this campaign...

A corner in was cleared, but like a conveyer belt Town cannoned another testing ball into the danger zone. This time it did meet their intended target – Hamilton, who to his credit, did incredibly well to loop a header over Lewis and past an unguarded post and into the net. 3-3. One thing is for sure, those 122 spectators who did turn up on a pleasant autumn afternoon got their money’s worth!

That was the last action as referee Matt Eva blew time on the proceedings of another highly entertaining game. Both sides led at one stage in the game and you felt that both could have gone away with the points, but as it happens, a draw was a fair result as both sides shared the spoils. Northwood now take a brief break from Evo-Stik Central action, when they face one of their league counterparts Uxbridge on Tuesday evening in the Red Insure League Cup. If the past two games the Woods have participated in are anything to go by, then we should see some goals!

After the game, manager Gary Meakin gave his thoughts on the match. Meakin was asked whether he was disappointed by the soft goals the team conceded this afternoon. “Yes, it is frustrating because we are leaking too many goals at the moment. To stop the soft goals or goals in general you need to limit the amount of chances the other team is able to create. I am not going to name individuals, but ultimately it is a team effort. We are scoring enough goals it is just about working hard to stop them going in at the other end.”

He was also asked about whether he was disappointed to concede late again. “Of course it is disappointing. I question whether we deserved to win the game. It was close and a draw is probably a fair result. Like I mentioned, it is a case of trying to stop conceding, because we create enough chances and we score plenty of goals.”

As always, the manager was also questioned about whether there were any injuries ahead of the games against Uxbridge and Barton Rovers in the next week. “There are none. Kyle Matthews is the only one really; he is still getting back to fitness from his long term injury”.

In addition, Captain Ronayne Marsh-Brown was also asked about the game and the performance, and in particular conceding late on. “It is massively disappointing. We scored three and our mindset is naturally to go for it. We need to learn to close games out. Credit to them (Rugby), they competed well, and as frustrating as it was to concede late, a draw was probably a fair result”.

Report by MATT FORD

Photos by James Brown