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NORTHWOOD FC   Thursday 1st January 2015   NORTH GREENFORD

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 1 North Greenford 1

Murray 85

Bah 73

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Amadou Tangara
2 Omar Vassell     2 Andrew Manitou
3 Andy Lomas     3 Jessy Yoboue
4 Mark Burgess     4 Jay Simon
5 Steve Brown     5 Ahmed Mohammed
6 Perry Dicker      6 Gaylor Mbunga
7 George Nicholas (79m)     7 Paulo Sousa
8 James Burgess (76m)     8 Filipe Da Silva
9 Niko Muir     9 Ibrahim Bah
10 Dave Lawrence (69m)     10 Bradley Morris (62m)
11 Rob Hastings     11 Anton Johnson (46m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Will Hudson (79m)     12 Anton Robinson (46m)
14 Michael Murray (69m)     14 Wilson Ferreira (62m)
15 Liam Baker (76m)     15 Joe Hopla
16 Jordan Lawal     16 Charlie Mitchell
17 -     17 Andrew O’Connell
      Referee: Mark Mellor; Assistants: Mark Stevens & Alex Rayment      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  


The Woods had to be happy with just a point from this local derby Bank Holiday fixture against lowly North Greenford having struggled to maintain their recent form against a side rejuvenated by another recent change of management. The visitors have promoted reserve team boss Barry Morris in a caretaker role to replace the recently departed Don Bennett and many of his new squad have also been called up from the side who were doing well in the Suburban League.

With Nick Turner unavailable, Steve Brown moved into the centre of defence alongside Mark Burgess for the first time this season while George Nicholas made his first start since picking up an ankle injury at the end of September. Dave Lawrence also made his first start for some time, with Michael Murray dropping to the bench.

It was North Greenford who made the better start to the game with the wind at their backs and Ibrahim Bah managed to get the first shot on target after nine minutes, though Berkley Laurencin was equal to it in goal for the Woods. Nicholas countered a minute later, spraying a ball wide to Lawrence and then receiving it back in similarly accurate fashion and although his shot on goal took a deflection, goalkeeper Amadou Tangara was well behind it.

On 17 minutes, the tricky Paulo Sousa tried his luck from distance with a dipping shot that still finished over the target but it was a rare bit of action from a disappointing first-half with very few chances. The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession and also fired in several dangerous-looking crosses but there was never anyone there to take advantage.

Only towards the end of the half did the Woods get anywhere near their opponent’s goal. On 43 minutes Nicholas played a neat ball that put Rob Hastings in on goal but Tangara pulled off a fine save and the ball was cleared to safety. Then a late Lawrence corner was met by Brown with a good header that was cleared off the line.

The Blues replaced Anton Johnson with former Woods winger Anton Robinson for the second-half and he added a bit of pace out wide that the game was lacking. However, it was Northwood who cut out the early running with Lawrence doing well to get in a cross to the near-post where Niko Muir was unable to get a touch and when the ball ran to Nicholas, his strike was comfortable taken by the keeper.

Then a Lawrence free-kick was played through for Perry Dicker to run onto but he delayed his shot too long and the ball was scrambled away. On 52 minutes, the visitors went close when Bradley Morris turned and fired for goal but Laurencin pulled off a fine save to deny him. Then skipper Andrew Manitou got forward well and let fly with a long-range strike that wasn’t far over the bar.

The game was beginning to open up a little. Andy Lomas struck low and wide and then Morris went close to getting the required touch to a Robinson cross that flew across the face of goal before Muir flicked a header that Tangara collected safely. James Burgess got in a rare shot when a corner was half-cleared but the ever-alert goalkeeper palmed the ball away while Gaylor Mbunga curled a shot over the bar for the Blues.

But the Woods hopes of winning the game took a huge blow on 68 minutes when Dicker battled past a couple of foul tackles in midfield with the Referee playing advantage but despite eventually winning a free-kick, he petulantly kicked out at his opponent while on the ground and was quickly shown a red card.

The visitors‘ keeper made his first error from the resulting free-kick when he missed an attempted punched clearance but he got away with it as the ball then hit Brown and rebounded wide of the goal. Murray replaced Lawrence for some fresh legs but things got worse for the ten men when North Greenford took a 73rd minute lead as Bah latched onto a loose ball and scored with a shot that took a deflection off Brown to leave Laurencin with no chance.

There was little time to rescue the match. Reserve striker Liam Baker replaced James Burgess for his first-team debut and almost made an immediate impression when a good ball put him through down the right and he struck a good shot past the ‘keeper but also just wide of the far post. But after 84 minutes Murray flighted in a free-kick that saw Brown stretch for a header but he was pulled back by his marker and a penalty was the result. It was top scorer Murray who stepped up to the mark and levelled the scores with a neat finish against one of his former clubs.

Despite dropping points it extended the Woods unbeaten run to four matches, while North Greenford’s performance will have rekindled their hopes of avoiding relegation this season.