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NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 7th March 2015   AFC HAYES

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 2  AFC Hayes 1

I Ehui 26, Murray 91

Debatista 20

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Melvin Minter
2 James Burgess     2 Ola Olajubu
3 Andy Lomas     3 Dujon Desaguarante
4 Mark Burgess ©     4 Jerome Ecclestone
5 Steve Brown     5 Luke Baldwin
6 Dave Lawrence (93m)     6 Jordan Berry
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Jake Cass ©
8 Jordan Lawal (75m)     8 David Manu (17m)
9 Niko Muir     9 Ryan Debattista
10 Ismael Ehui     10 Eugene Asante (68m)
11 Rob Hastings (70m)     11 Dominic Rhone
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Michael Murray (75m)     12 Tashan Dwyer (68m)
14 Nana Asamoah (70m)     14 Tom Dawson
15 Perry Dicker (93m)     15 Benel-Mhanni(17m)(62m)
16 -     16 Danny McDonnell
17 -     17 Manuel Expetita (62m)
      Referee: Jake Hillier; Assistants: Chris Potter & Mike Smith      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  


After three games without a goal, the Woods will have been relieved to have picked up all three points from this close-game but they left it very late before a hotly-disputed penalty saw Michael Murray convert the winner. With Omar Vassell unavailable and Nick Turner still ruled out with injury, James Burgess filled in at right-back allowing Jordan Lawal to accompany Dave Lawrence in central midfield. Michael Murray was rested to allow Ismael Ehui to partner Niko Muir up while Rob Hastings and Joakim Ehui were the chosen ones for the wide roles.

AFC Hayes are battling against relegation but have produced several improved results since a recent change of manager and they started brightly, stretching the Woods defence on several occasions. Ryan Debattista has been in good form for the Brook since joining from Harrow Borough and he laid on a great chance for Eugene Asante after 13 minutes but he miskicked in front of an open goal and it rebounded off of Mark Burgess for what would have been a corner had the Referee not over-ruled his assistant.

It was Debattista again five minutes later as he did well to work space for a near-post strike which goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin pushed up and over the bar. Despite losing David Manu to an early injury, AFC Hayes continued to press and when Mark Burgess missed an attempted clearance and caught Asante on the foot instead, Referee Jake Hillier was quick to point to the spot. Debattista took charge and although Laurencin did well to keep out his effort, the ball fell kindly back to the striker who gave his side a 20th minute lead.

The Woods needed a swift way back into the game and they got that just six minutes later. A free-kick was headed towards goal by Ismael Ehui and the ball took a big deflection to wrongfoot goalkeeper Melvin Minter and level the scores. It settled the home side who began to play better football and Minter saved well when Steve Brown got on the end of a Lawrence corner while another strike from Ismael Ehui deflected wide this time off Niko Muir who had tried to flick it on for goal.

Visitors’ skipper Jake Cass had an effort which went wide of the post before Muir had a shot blocked at the other end and Hastings curled another early shot wide after being put through by Ismael Ehui. Hopes were high that the Woods would begin to dominate after the break, but in fact the Brook should have regained the lead after 52 minutes as Debattista went through on goal, only to be denied by the outstretched leg of Laurencin. The loose ball was put in by Asante but quickly ruled out by an offside flag.

Northwood’s attacks were thwarted on several occasions by niggly trips with several yellow cards being shown in quick succession but it broke up any rhythm. The closest the Woods came to finding a goal was when Brown got a free header to an Andy Lomas free-kick but saw Minter stretch up top block and the ball was cleared.

Debattista was less of a threat and he could only shoot straight at Laurencin from distance and then Asante headed wide from a corner as the visitors showed that they were still capable of stealing a rare win.

Nana Asamoah provided fresh legs in place of Hastings on 70 minutes and he was quickly on the ball with a crisp strike that flew only just wide. Then a minute later probably the best move of the game eventually saw Joakim Ehui cut a ball back invitingly for Asamoah but this time he swept his shot over the bar when looking sure to score. Murray replaced Lawal after 75 minutes to give the Woods another attacking option while Laurencin was called on again to keep out a long-range effort from defender Ola Olajubu.

After 81 minutes, Asamoah was put through on goal down the right and when his first effort was saved by the diving Minter the loose ball fell to him but before he could go for goal, the Referee’s whistle pulled him back for what appeared to be a foul on the goalkeeper despite the fact he hadn’t got anywhere near him. Assistant Manager Simon Huggett’s frustrated reaction at another assumed error saw him sent from the technical area.

Substitute Manuel Expetita had a shot blocked for AFC Hayes and then Ismael Ehui touched a Murray cross wide of the near-post but time was running out for both sides when another incident changed the game in the first minute of stoppage-time. Asamoah was put through on goal yet again and he powered into the box before looking to go past the ‘keeper. Minter came out to halt him and although he did get to the ball first, he was adjudged to have taken the Woods forward down too and a spot-kick was awarded. Murray took responsibility and made no mistake, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way to earn all three points for the Woods.

It was Northwood’s first win against any of the bottom three but hopefully can kick-start another good run of form after their recent slip. Another home game against old rivals Uxbridge follows next Saturday with former boss Tony Choules’ side just one place behind the Woods in the table.