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RUGBY TOWN FC   Saturday 4th April 2015   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Rugby Town 2  Northwood 1  

Gregory 24, Lake-Gaskin 45

I Ehui 27

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Neil Collett     1 Berkley Laurencin
2 Ben George     2 Omar Vassell
3 Craig Kelly     3 Andy Lomas
4 Mason Rowley     4 Mark Burgess ©
5 Alex Austin     5 Perry Dicker
6 Will Grocutt     6 James Burgess
7 Sam Youngs (86m)     7 Joakim Ehui (86m)
8 Richard Blythe ©     8 Niko Muir
9 Richard Gregory (79m)     9 Ismael Ehui
10 Seb Lake-Gaskin     10 Michael Murray
11 Fazel Koriya (76m)     11 Rob Hastings (71m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Justin Marsden (86m)     12 Nana Asamoah (71m)
14 Lewis Rankin (76m)     14 Jordan Payne
15 Mitch Piggon (79m)     15 Davantay Hastings (86m)
16 Robbie Banks     16 -
17 Tyler Reeve     17 -
      Referee: Darren Russell; Assistants: Robert Whittaker & A Murphy      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS courtesy Martin Pulley  




The Woods were edged out of this highly-entertaining contest with play-off seeking Rugby Town relieved to be taking all three valuable points. Northwood arrived with a threadbare squad depleted by the absence of Steve Brown from the defence and both Jordan Lawal and Dave Lawrence from the midfield, so Perry Dicker was called on to play at the back for the first time in months while Niko Muir played probably his first-ever game in the centre.

It was no surprise that the home side started strongly and on the front foot with Seb Lake-Gaskin forcing the first save of the afternoon on seven minutes as he found space to shoot to the near post but Berkley Laurencin was well-positioned to save comfortably. Five minutes later, a neat ball played inside Andy Lomas found Sam Youngs and it needed a timely interception by the covering Omar Vassell to clear the danger. On 14 minutes, Richard Gregory robbed Rob Hastings of a ball just inside the Northwood and then went for goal from distance but it was always wide of the target.

The pressure on the Woods makeshift defence continued and the tricky Youngs set up Lake-Gaskin for another shot which flashed wide and high of the near-post. The same player had another effort on target shortly after but without the power to bear Laurencin. The Woods had passed the ball around well up to this stage but without any goal threat but on 20 minutes and excellent move saw Muir burst from midfield and hit a solid strike that beat home goalkeeper Neil Collett but came back off the post. The ball cannoned back off the ‘keeper but luckily bounced just wide for a corner.

Yet, just two minutes later Rugby had taken the lead in somewhat fortunate fashion. Fazel Koriya made a speedy run into the box but was stopped in his tracks by a timely Mark Burgess tackle only for the ball to run loose straight to Richard Gregory who fired a shot inside the post to give Laurencin no chance. The Woods responded superbly. Two minutes later Michael Murray played a neat ball in to Ismael Ehui who hit a crisp shot on the turn which stung the hands of Collett but was straight at him. Then Vassell did well on the right to pick out Murray unmarked at the far post but he got no power in his shot at all and the ‘keeper collected gratefully at the foot of the post.

On 27 minutes Ismael Ehui picked up a ball on the right and beat his marker to get into the box before squeezing a powerful shot inside Collett’s near post to level the scores with his fourteenth goal of the season. Just a minute later it was Joakim Ehui’s turn to go close with a powerful run and shot which crashed into the side-netting and a minute later the same player went for goal again with a strike that Collett pushed wide for a corner. A well-worked corner routine saw Muir dummy Lomas’s ball in and it gave Murray a great chance to hit the target but he blazed over the top.

The Woods continued to look for a goal before the break and had Rugby pegged back with some delightful movement and after 39 minutes Muir latched onto an Ismael Ehui lay-off to hit another shot which flew inches wide of the upright.

Yet Rugby showed great resilience and surprised themselves by regaining the lead in stoppage-time of the first-half. A good ball put the tricky Youngs through down the right and he left Mark Burgess standing as he beat him and cut the ball back for Lake-Gaskin to sweep the ball home. Rugby then had a chance to add a third two minutes later as Mason Rowley headed wide from a corner but it stayed 2-1 at the break.

The home side started the second-half back on the attack and Gregory had a great chance for a second goal, heading over a Will Grocutt cross from close-range. The Woods defended stoutly with both Mark and James Burgess making desperate blocks to deny Lake-Gaskin and Koriya as the visitors looked to stay in the game.
Then, on 57 minutes there was a great chance for the Woods to level again. Murray picked out Ismael Ehui once again and he did well to find enough space on the edge of the box, only to hit his shot directly at Collett who beat the ball out and the danger was cleared.

Two minutes later, Rob Hastings attacked down the left and a good run took him past his marker but his goalbound angled shot just clipped the outstretched foot of the diving goalkeeper and the ball flew up and over the bar. From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Mark Burgess but he skied his effort on goal.

The game continued to be very open and played at a high-tempo and a good surface for the time of year and Laurencin had to be at his best to rise acrobatically to tip over a long-range strike before Muir again tried his luck with a shot from outside the box but this time it was always just too high to test Collett. Murray did the same with another effort following good approach work from Rob Hastings before the first change was made with Hastings making way for the introduction of Nana Asamoah and the first of Rugby’s substitutions too.

But instead of new blood introducing fresh legs it appeared to have the opposite effect with the rhythm of the game appearing to drop significantly. Murray headed over from a corner but the chances dried up at both ends until the final stages. Youth striker Davantay Hastings came on for the Woods on 86 minutes. Rugby substitute Lewis Rankin had just hit a curling shot not far wide of the far post just before Hastings almost made it a dream start. Lomas curled in a great cross and Hastings did well to steer a header goalwards but the ball floated just the wrong side of the crossbar.

Exuberance was probably to blame for the youngster also picking up the only yellow card of the game just a minute later but there were still three more opportunities for the Woods to come in stoppage-time as they battled through to the end. Ismael Ehui was given the rare opportunity to strike direct from a free-kick but although he got his well-struck effort on target, the home ‘keeper was again well behind it and held on well.

Then Vassell got forward well down the right to curl in a tempting cross and it was Ismael Ehui who again got closest to it but he was still a few inches shot of getting the vital touch as it flashed across the six-yard box. Finally, another Vassell centre was met by Perry Dicker with a header but it merely looped up kindly for the home ‘keeper who gathered it safely to ensure Rugby were still in with a good chance of a play-off place once again.