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NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 16th August 2014   ROYSTON TOWN FC

Southern League Division One Central

  Northwood 1 Royston Town 2   

Asamoah 71

Lockett 36, Walters 95

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Paul Bastock
2 James Duncan     2 Nick Azzopardi (80m)
3 Andy Lomas (83m)     3 Jack Bradshaw
4 Nick Turner     4 Scott Bridges
5 Mark Burgess     5 Lewis Endacott (70m)
6 Jordan Lawal     6 Ryan Wharton
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Kaan Fehmi (58m)
8 George Nicholas     8 Stuart Bridges
9 Jack Smith (56m)     9 Ryan Lockett
10 Dave Lawrence     10 Gary Hart
11 Omar Vassell (61m)     11 Chris Watters
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Alex Nolan (83m)     12 Spyros Mentis (70m)
14 Tommy Walsh     14 Carl Edwards
15 Nana Asamoah (56m)     15 Ross Collins (80m)
16 Javonne Molloy     16 Ryan Ingrey (58m)
17 Sam Byfield (61m)     17
Robbie Nightingale
      Referee: Chris Williams; Assistants: John Okole & Steve Williams
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  




After the midweek drubbing at leaders Kettering Town, the Woods regrouped to take on Royston Town in their first home game of the season. With Player of the Year Steve Brown ruled out of the immediate future with a damaged ankle, manager Mark Burgess brought himself back into the centre of the defence, while he also opted for more experience as James Duncan and Andy Lomas came into the full-back positions. The latter was making his first start following a summer move from Walton & Hersham. The remainder of the side was the same that had started at Kettering so had something to prove in front of the home fans.

Royston are again amongst the favourites for a title challenge, and started brightly with Gary Hart outmuscling Nick Turner on the edge of the box and poking a shot past Berkley Laurencin only to see it come back off the far post. Just two minutes later, Northwood had their best chance of the half as an excellent cross came in from the right and Dave Lawrence met it on the half-volley but found former St. Albans City goalkeeper Paul Bastock equal to it with a reflex save that belied his veteran status at the age of 44. The rebound ran loose but Omar Vassell was unable to reach it.
Laurencin made his first save on 11 minutes getting down well to save a deflected Ryan Fehmi free-kick but the Woods defence was beginning to settle down and the Crows were restricted to less attacks. At the other end, George Nicholas was close to getting on the end of a well-flighted free-kick but another Royston free-kick, taken by Fehmi, looked goalbound as it came through a sea of bodies and it needed a late dive from an unsighted Laurencin to push the ball wide of the post.

On 31 minutes the hard-working Nicholas managed to knock a good ball into the box and Burgess was almost in on it but it spun away from him and into the arms of a relieved Bastock. It was on 36 minutes that the Crows got their noses in front as Ryan Lockett chased a long ball down the right channel and beat Laurencin to the ball. He controlled it well, managing to steer a shot past the sliding attempt to block from Turner and into an unguarded net.

Lockett forced Laurencin into another low stop just a minute later but Northwood were showing some signs of revival just before the break as Lomas knocked in a tempting ball but without finding contact.

From an early stage of the second half there were signs that the Woods were beginning to make some progress in the final third, as Joakim Ehui sped forward and knocked in a near-post cross that Jack Smith flicked only just wide.

The 17-year-old Smith was then replaced by Nana Asamoah, recovered from the injury he picked up in pre-season, and he was soon in action, setting up a chance for Ehui but he fired well over the bar. Sam Byfield then replaced Vassell on the left and was also quickly involved. Asamoah flashed a shot just wide and then Nicholas knocked in a cross that eluded everyone.

But the deserved equaliser did finally come after 71 minutes and was the result a neat flowing move. Ehui, Nicholas and Lawrence were all involved in getting a ball into the path of Asamoah, who hit an accurate low shot into the bottom corner that gave Bastock no chance. The impressive Nicholas came very close to giving Northwood the lead after 75 minutes when he swept an Ehui cross with power but the ball failed to drop and flew just over the bar.

A good passing move between Lockett and Hart almost put the former in on goal, but he stumbled and it allowed Laurencin to come out and collect the ball while he also looked solid when taking several high free-kicks into the box.

Back came the Woods with Byfield doing well on the left. He slipped a ball to Nicholas whose shot was wayward but recovered by Asamoah who then had two shots in quick succession, firstly seeing an effort blocked and then putting the rebound into the side-netting. Northwood looked most likely to grab the win at this stage and another good move saw Nicholas set up Lawrence for a great strike that Bastock was only able to parry but there was no-one again to follow-up on the loose ball.

Royston went down to ten men for the closing stages through injury having used all three substitutes and the Woods went very close to taking full advantage as Byfield weaved his way through two challenges before knocking in a centre that Bastock could only push away. This time it fell to Lawrence, though some distance out, and his attempted kick over his shoulder was blocked.

Byfield went close himself a minute later with another good run and shot that flashed across goal and not far wide of the far post while Asamoah then went for goal again and although Bastock was unable to hold, he recovered quickly.

It was in the fifth minute of stoppage-time that Northwood were hit by a killer blow as a quick break and a defence splitting pass allowed Chris Watters to steal into the box and he stroked a left-foot shot past Laurencin for the winning goal.

The Woods need to pick themselves up from this disappointment and go again on Tuesday night for the visit of another high-flyer in Rugby Town, beaten yet again in the play-offs last season.