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Leverstock Green 2  Northwood 3

Saturday 4th August 2012

 

Northwood
James Reading
1
Scott Raper
2
Ronanye Marsh-Brown
3
Lee Grant
4
Reece Yorke
5
Brad Hewitt
6
James Fraser
7
Dean Worman
8
Adamson Ajayi
9
Oliver Hawkins
10
Romaine Walker
11
Substitutes
Danny McDonnell (2, 60m)
12
Garry Senior (6, 46m)
14
Garry Malone
15
 

The extended pre-season campaign continued for the Woods on Saturday with another away game against Spartan South Midlands League opposition and, for the fourth time in eight games, they notched a victory by the odd goal in five. While those matches have been fairly entertaining for the loyal band of Northwood fans, there will be concern about the number of goals being conceded at present.

The Woods had never met Leverstock Green at first-team level before and the home side are in a rebuilding phase having had a recent change of management and many players but they looked well-organised and have a bit of pace about them in good areas. Northwood were missing John Christian, Sam Sharples, James McCluskey and the injured Spencer Bellotti, but there was a return for Ronayne Marsh-Brown, having missed the midweek trip to Hanwell.

Adamson Ajayi was playing up front in the place vacated by Bellotti and his pace caused problems for the home side throughout the first half. His first effort on goal was deflected wide for a corner after just 8 minutes and Dean Worman was next to go close with a shot that lacked the power to beat goalkeeper Joe Healey. Another attack down the right from Ajayi saw him cut in and beat one before cutting the ball back into the path of Romaine Walker who should have hit the target but dragged his effort just wide.

James Fraser shot well over after some good approach work from Walker but then the Woods were almost caught out as a long ball down the slope sailed over Brad Hewitt’s head and Paul Insley was through on goal. He went past James Reading and rolled the ball towards goal from an angle but Reading recovered well and dived on the ball to stop it crossing the line. Having done it once, Leverstock went for it again six minutes later as a quick break saw Insley released again and this time after he went past Reading, his attempt to square the ball for Tobi Akin went behind his colleague and the chance was wasted.

Just two minutes later the Woods, having ridden their luck a bit, took the lead as a good ball from Lee Grant released Ajayi and he made space to drive the ball past the keeper and in off the post. And within four minutes, an excellent flicked header from Oliver Hawkins put Ajayi through again, but this time his low shot crept the wrong side of the post.

Northwood were looking stronger at this stage and they should have added to their lead in the closing stages of the half. James Fraser got forward well to flick an Ajayi cross goalwards and the ball hit the post as Hawkins tried to force it over the line but somehow it stayed out.
Another good move involving Hawkins and Fraser set up Ajayi for another shot at goal on 44 minutes but this time he knocked the ball over the bar.

The Woods’ shooting got more accurate after the break with Ajayi denied by the keeper and then substitute Garry Senior hitting the post within the first few minutes, but Fraser also shot well over before the Woods doubled the lead on the hour. A free-kick was pumped in by Reece Yorke, Senior laid it off neatly and Hawkins rifled in from eight yards.

Three minutes later an excellent move led to Marsh-Brown knocking in an accurate cross which picked out Senior unmarked at the far post, but his volley was blocked by some desperate defending.

After 64 minutes, Leverstock were gifted a goal when Akin knocked a ball into his own path with his hand and then ran on to score with handball claims falling on the deaf ears of the officials despite being seen by virtually all of the spectators. But two minutes later the two-goal cushion was restored when Walker made a rare attacking run, exchanging passes with Senior and then going past a defender before crashing a shot past the keeper.

Both Ajayi and Senior went close to extending that lead before the home side battled back in the final five minutes. Akin fired high and wide with one chance but then a long ball saw Jon Davies suspiciously offside but allowed to run through unpenalised and he battled past Grant to fire home a second goal for Leverstock.

That’s the way it stayed and the home side, who were excellent hosts, ended their pre-season campaign on a good note prior to starting their FA Cup campaign against Oxhey Jets next weekend. The Woods still have another week of warm-up games to come, at Harrow Borough on Monday night, against Wealdstone on Tuesday and then winding-up at Clevedon Town next Saturday. They are unbeaten in eight games, seven of them having been played away from home but ironically their only clean sheet was in the home game against the might of Chelsea’s Under-21s.

REPORT by ALAN EVANS