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Enfield Town 2 Northwood 3

Tuesday 17th July 2012

 

Northwood
Mitch Swain
1
Scott Raper
2
Ronayne Marsh-Brown
3
Lee Grant
4
Brad Hewitt
5
Reece Yorke
6
Richard Langley
7
John Christian
8
Spencer Bellotti
9
Garry Senior
10
James McCluskey
11
Substitutes (all used)
James Fraser
12
Adamson Ajayi
14
Danny McDonnell
15
Oliver Hawkins
16
Romaine Walker
17
Alex Paine
18
Kyle Matthews
19
Garry Malone
20

The wide-open and plush surroundings of Merchant Taylors' School provided the backdrop to this pre-season friendly against an Enfield Town side that will be looking to find their feet at Ryman League Premier level this season. Their promotion through the play-offs at the end of the last campaign, under the management of one-time Woods striker Steve Newing, was part of a well-planned progress over the years for the Middlesex club who also moved into their new ground last term. The future looks bright, and they certainly started this contest on top.

The Woods trialled a three at the back defensive formation to start this game and while they generally looked solid in their own half; they lacked their usual attacking prowess over the opening half-hour. The Town, who fielded two ex-Northwood players in their ranks in striker Leon Osei and attacking winger Gary Burrell, took the lead after 15 minutes. A corner was swung in and Lee Grant’s misdirected header went straight to the head of Tyler Campbell, who deflected the ball past Mitch Swain from the edge of the six-yard box.

Northwood’s efforts on goal were restricted to one header from Brad Hewitt, who directed a Ronayne Marsh-Brown cross straight at the goalkeeper, and then Grant skied his effort after a corner dropped to him on the edge of the box. Richard Langley, the former QPR midfielder who won 17 caps for Jamaica, started the game in central midfield as he looks to build his fitness, improved as the half wore on but it was still Enfield who were shading it, with Michael Ewang curling one shot just wide and then Osei also failing to hit the target.

Yet, with the end of the first half approaching, the Woods pulled the scores level when Garry Senior turned on a ball about twenty yards out and hit a great strike that arrowed into the top corner just out of reach of the diving goalkeeper.

Several changes were made from the start in the second half as Oliver Hawkins came on for Spencer Bellotti up front, newcomers James Fraser and Alex Paine filled in for Langley and John Christian in the centre, while Romaine Walker came on in place of Scott Raper. The effect was quite dramatic, as the increase of pace started to pull holes in the Enfield defence, despite the presence of skipper Mark Kirby for the second period. Just four minutes in some delightful approach play saw Hawkins slip a ball through for Fraser to pounce on and the ex-Harrow, Harlow and Aveley midfielder coolly slotted in the equaliser.

Two minutes later a similarly clever flick from Senior put Walker in on goal, and although he also slipped the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper, it came back off the post and was cleared to safety. The pressure continued and Fraser headed a Marsh-Brown centre goalwards where Senior directed a reflex header looping up and only just over the crossbar. On the hour, it was James McCluskey’s turn to impress with an attacking run from midfield, and his ball to Hawkins saw last season’s top scorer squeeze in a shot which was well saved low down by the young keeper.

More changes followed with former QPR reserve defender Danny McDonnell replacing the impressive Reece Yorke at the back while Kyle Matthews and Adamson Ajayi came on to add fresh legs at the expense of the tiring Senior and McCluskey. With James Reading still on his holidays until the weekend, 16-year-old Garry Malone was given a run-out between the sticks for the last twenty-five minutes, and he did well to rush out and save at the feet of one Enfield attacker, and it was Northwood who extended their lead after 71 minutes. It was a pacy run from Ajayi that caused the damage, and a swift exchange of passes with the supporting Marsh-Brown saw the former Chalfont man knock the ball past the ‘keeper to make it 3-1.

The fourth looked likely when Marsh-Brown knocked in a great diagonal ball soon after as Hawkins met it with a header that he lifted over the oncoming keeper but the ball bounced wide of the post. With five minutes to go and the first signs of darkness beginning to show, former Wood Burrell struck lucky with a shot from twenty yards which took a deflection and curled away from the diving Malone to reduce the arrears, but Northwood held on for a narrow victory in what was a very good workout once again for both sides.

The Woods will be pleased with the manner of this victory over a side preparing for life at Premier Division level, and they now go on a trawl of lower-ranked clubs with away games at Bedfont Sports, AFC Dunstable, Tring Athletic, Hanwell Town and Leverstock Green, but with competition for starting places now hotting up, it should be an interesting series of games.

REPORT by ALAN EVANS