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Saturday 24th January 1976

A mysterious goalkeeping error cost Northwood two valuable points against Middlesex League rivals North Harefield on Saturday, and seriously endangered their championship chances.

With twenty minutes to go and the scores at 1-1, there seemed no danger as the ball ran gently towards Northwood keeper Dave Russell on the edge of his area. For some inexplicable reason, though, he suddenly lost control of the ball and it fell at the feet of North Harefield’s Ted Huxley, who gratefully slotted the gift home.

This latest defeat came as an unwelcome addition to the difficulties Northwood are at present undergoing with team selection, mainly due to a large number of suspensions. It also means that their Middlesex League title race with Yeading is going to be much fiercer.

Up till Russell’s error, the game looked to be heading for a draw. The sides had taken equal honours from a goal-less first half, in which play was mainly confined to midfield. The only thing to separate them was the tremendous form of John Toogood in the North Harefield goal. With the space of five minutes, Toogood made two saves that would have graced any ground in the land.

The first came when he took off on springed boots to turn over a Saunders header that looked bound for the roof of the net. Then he saved Saunders’ wickedly-struck free-kick that flew through a ruck of players.

This was the nearest either side went to scoring in the first half, but soon after the restart Woods were ahead. A bad back-pass from Harefield’s Gary Amer led to a corner, from which the ball was scrambled out to Roberts. As the Harefield defence raced out, Roberts lobbed the ball back into the area, where Gary Cooper waiting to nod it past Toogood, despite appeals for offside.

Northwood’s joy was short-lived, however, for two minutes later Harefield struck back. Three Woods defenders jumped for a long free-kick, but they all missed, and the ball floated to Steve Long, who brought it under control before whipping it past Russell.

From there on, there was no much to choose between the two teams. Woods’ best chance in this period fell to Cooper, but he failed to capitalise on a loose ball in the area, and his shot bounced tantalising across the face of an empty goal.

But then came Russell’s blunder, so Northwood failed to collect the point they deserved.

Northwood:  Russell, Mills, Hammond, Gould, Saunders, Tidd, Franklin, Heslop, Roberts, Cooper, Jones, sub. Dibbens.