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NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 15th September 2012   LEATHERHEAD FC
   

FA Carlsberg Trophy 1st Qualifying Round

   
  Northwood 0  Leatherhead 4   
   

 

Scorers:
Boulter 8, Andrews 48,
Simmons 53, Thompson 64

   
Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Matt Reed
2 Scott Raper     2 Jamie Coyle
3 Ryan Phillips (57m)     3 Adam Gross
4 Brad Hewitt (62m)     4 Chris Boulter
5 Reece Yorke     5 Jerry Nnamani
6 John Christian     6 Elliott Thompson
7 Jack Hutchinson     7 Billy Manners
8 Craig White     8 Mark Simmons
9 Spencer Bellotti (73m)     9 Kev Terry (73m)
10 Adamson Ajayi     10 Tommy Hutchings (69m)
11 Romaine Walker     11 Greg Andrews (75m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Ricky Rogers     12 Bentley Graham (75m)
14 Dean Worman     14 T Francis-Adeyinke (69m)
15 James Fraser (73m)     15 Dan Palfrey
16 Kyle Matthews (62m)     16 Sam Blackman (73m)
17 Oliver Hawkins(57m)     17 Louis Chin
           
      Referee: Peter Georgiou; Assistants: Alperen Nayer & Errol Walker      
  REPORT by Matt Ford      PHOTOS by James Brown  
       

After the euphoria of knocking out Southern League Premier Division side Chesham United in the FA Cup first qualifying round last weekend, it was the turn of the FA Trophy to take centre stage as Northwood welcomed Ryman Division One South outfit Leatherhead to Chestnut Avenue.

However, any hopes of a fast start – like the one witnessed a fortnight ago against Aylesbury when the Woods stormed in front after 19 seconds – were dashed immediately as the visitors were penning Northwood deep in their own half. Firstly a header was glanced wide from a free kick after the attacker had found himself isolated in the danger zone, and then Kevin Terry and Tommy Hutchings combined beautifully though the latter’s driven effort was always heading wide. The pressure didn’t subside, and the Tanners forced a series of corners and after eight minutes it paid dividends. An in swinging corner from the right side was glanced home by centre half Chris Boulter who was unmarked to give his side a 1-0 lead; in truth, he couldn’t have missed.

Things were looking ominous as goalkeeper James Reading had to intervene and break up a dangerous looking through-ball, and then two minutes later the young shot-stopper was forced to make a smart stop at the far post from Billy Manners – a man who was a part of the Sittingbourne side that knocked the Woods out of the competition at this stage last season. Then, for the first time in the afternoon, a series of slick passes between Scott Raper, Jack Hutchinson and Adamson Ajayi ended with a decent driven effort by John Christian, but fortunately for the visitors they were able to block the effort and then clear their lines. The hosts were almost very nearly architects of their own downfall as Ajayi conceded possession and that resulted in a Leatherhead corner. Yet, a few minutes later, Northwood created their best move and best chance of the game to date. Full-back Raper delivered a delicious ball that had the goalkeeper caught in two minds as to whether to come and claim or stay on his line. In the end he did neither and Spencer Bellotti almost capitalised as his toe poke struck the frame of Matt Reed in the away side’s goal.

Chances came and went for both teams as first another set piece by Richard Brady’s side caused problems as Hutchings headed over from close range, and then at the other end another Raper cross forced a corner kick with Yorke and Bellotti combining, yet neither were able to breach the defences of the opposition. What followed was Northwood’s best spell of the first period. Ryan Phillips and Hutchinson combined cohesively, and then it was down to the two wingers Romaine Walker and Ajayi to do the rest as the former evaded two or three defenders before teeing up the ex Chalfont St Peter wide man and despite cutting inside onto his left foot and narrowing the angle, he could only find the side netting with the goalkeeper beaten. For the first time in the match, Walker was becoming a genuine threat to the Ryman League side, but on this occasion he may have been guilty of going for glory himself as despite rounding the keeper and having two teammates who were better placed, the Young Player of the Year went for goal himself from a ridiculous angle when he ought to have squared the ball – had he done so it surely would have resulted in a Woods equaliser.

Into the second half and it was more of the same, with two goals in a five-minute period effectively making this match a non-contest. Meakin’s men were slow out of the blocks and a long ball over the top surprisingly caught Yorke flat footed. Terry left him for dead before coolly playing the ball across the six yard box for Greg Andrews and he did the rest tapping the ball home from close range for 2-0 after 48 minutes. Then, as Northwood tried to give themselves a platform back into the game, they left a ton of space at the back and that was cruelly exposed by Leatherhead skipper Mark Simmons who drove home from 20-yards out after fifty three minutes. At 3-0, the Woods manager had no choice but to go for it as he brought on Olly Hawkins for defender Phillips, and then on the hour, Brad Hewitt was withdrawn having walked off gingerly, with Kyle Matthews his replacement.

Moments after that aforementioned enforced change, Walker’s deep free kick was headed home by Hawkins, though to the dismay of many of the home contingent the linesman on the far side had raised his flag for offside. A demoralising moment which summed up the nature of the afternoon for the Woods. Nevertheless it could and perhaps should have been worse as Manners was played through but Hutchinson showed good tenacity to race back and block the shot. Then with ten minutes remaining goal number four did come for Leatherhead as former Raynes Park Vale midfielder Elliot Thompson was allowed time and space and similarly to Simmons’ goal, he let loose from the edge of the area and again it found the corner. One statistic that we won’t want to be reminded of too often is that this was Gary Meakin’s heaviest home defeat as manager of the club...

Credit must go to Leatherhead for their efficiency, though the scoreline did flatter them somewhat. Woods will look back to at least three of the goals which were rather soft on their part, and like this time last year when Northwood were beaten in a replay after extra time against another Ryman South side in Sittingbourne, it will be another year before we attempt a decent run in the Trophy – the last of which came back in the 2009/10 when the Woods were eventually knocked out by Carshalton Athletic.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for Gary Meakin and the Northwood team. This time next week it’s back to the FA Cup and a 2nd qualifying round tie versus Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side AFC Dunstable. It’s the first time they’ve been at this stage since 2005, as we seek to reach the 3rd qualifying round stage for the first time since 2001. It’s fair to say that Northwood will need to improve for this time next week as we look to keep our FA Cup dreams alive. Let’s hope they can do just that!

GARY MEAKIN’S POST MATCH COMMENTS

Talking after the match Woods’ manager Gary Meakin said: “I wouldn’t say it was not a contest at 2-0, but once it went to 3-0 then I would say it was. It’s frustrating because teams aren’t creating against us, we are giving them goals and we need to learn to stop doing that.

“Brad Hewitt did go off injured, but it is not serious, he just had a dead leg, that’s all.” Meakin then added: “The scoreline was not reflective of the game as a whole, in my opinion, though you cannot argue that they were not worthy winners. With the amount of ball we had and the chances we created, we should have been coming in at half-time at least level if not in front, but then, of course, they got two quick goals early in the second half.”

The Northwood manager added: “I was proud and happy last week (when referring to the victory away against Chesham United). But against Leatherhead, they didn’t let down me or Greg Phillips, they let themselves and the supporters down, because they are better than what they showed out there this afternoon. “You have to remember that we are taling about a group of young players here; Scott Raper is only early twenties, as is Brad Hewitt. Ryan Phillips and Reece Yorke are even younger, so they’re going to make mistakes now and again. Occasionally we need to be brought back down to earth that we are not yet the great team we think we are.”

He concluded in response to the FA Cup draw: “We could say we’re happy with the draw when you think we could have gotten anybody at our level, at the Premier Division level or even as high as the Conference South level. Although I think AFC Dunstable will be pleased too, because we are one of the best draws they could have got. They will come down here and fancy they can beat us, and hopefully we can respond next week when we face them.”