Northwood 4  Brentford XI 1

Saturday 30th July 2011

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Tony Russell
Scott Raper
Lee Grant
Liam Fowler
Junior Osborne
Warren Gladdy
Sam Sharples
Byron Bubb
Oliver Hawkins
Ben Alexander
Rob Ursell
Aaron Silcott (2, 63m)
Peter Lyall (6, 75m)
Garry Senior (9, 57m)
Jack Hutchinson (7, 57m)
Murray Williamson (8, 46m)
Aaron Lansiquot (10, 60m)
James McCluskey

Gary Meakin’s side continued their preparations for the new season with an impressive 4-1 victory over a Brentford Development XI at a sunny Chestnut Avenue. The Woods were narrowly beaten by Harrow Borough on Thursday, 0-1, and Gary Meakin would have wanted an improvement from his players - an improvement he most certainly got. Meakin made a handful of changes from Thursday’s match with Tony Russell replacing Sam Styles between the sticks, Scott Raper coming in at right back for Aaron Silcott, Lee Grant coming in for the injured Daryl Brown, and a surprise appearance from ex Watford and Aldershot Town defender Junior Osborne – coming back from long-term injury, who replaced Peter Lyall at the heart of the defence.

Northwood started the game well, and it took no less than 30 seconds for them to register an attempt on goal when Byron Bubb’s shot was blocked on route to goal. Brentford finally found some possession and won a corner, with the resulting delivery being headed onto the roof of the net. And barely a few moments later, Northwood survived another scare when Sam Sharples cleared a header off the line. But it was Northwood who were presented with the best opportunity to break the deadlock when Rob Ursell found some space and cleverly evaded the defender only to be thrusted down. The resulting penalty was taken by Bubb but it was saved low down by Brentford goalkeeper Jack Middleton. The ball then looped up and tall striker Oliver Hawkins nodded it down and there was Bubb to steer the ball home. Rob Ursell then went close moments later but his shot crept just passed the post.

Brentford were starting to see more of the ball, and got themselves back into the game on 26 minutes when Charlie Adams fed Luke Hacker who fended off Osborne and slotted coolly into the bottom left hand corner beyond Russell. The Woods fell asleep and almost paid the price when they allowed Brentford to advance forward again, with the resulting shot rocketing off the crossbar. Brentford were inches away from taking the lead. It was then Northwood’s turn to go close to going in front when Ben Alexander held of the defender but his shot one-on-one was well saved by Middleton. The ball was now becoming very congested in the middle of the park, so both sides opted for the aerial route, Oliver Hawkins the target for Northwood.

A couple of minutes later and Northwood were back in front when midfield maestro Ursell roamed forward and let rip from outside the area. His shot crept into the bottom left hand corner and Northwood had regained the lead right on the stroke of half-time. It was a key moment in the game as Woods now had the momentum going into the break.

Murray Williamson was introduced at the break replacing goal scorer Bubb. Northwood started the second half brilliantly, keeping the ball very well and making several inroads. Woods then created something out of nothing when they chased a seemingly lost cause, and in the process rushing Bees keeper Middleton into a quick clearance. The clearance fell to Ursell who fed Alexander but just like the first half, he could only hit it straight at the keeper. Northwood then went close again, firstly through Williamson who hit a shot from outside the box which was comfortably saved, and then when Ursell whipped in a corner, Hawkins was on the end of it but he could only steer it over the crossbar. It proved to be Hawkins last action as he was replaced by Garry Senior and Sharples was also brought off, replaced by young midfielder Jack Hutchinson. Immediately, Senior was in the thick of the action when he was put through by Ursell only to narrowly put his shot wide.

Brentford should have been level however, when a cross was whipped in and subsequently headed over from close range – it was a missed chance they would rue! Meakin then brought off Alexander and replaced him with Aaron Lansiquot and also took off Raper who sustained a knock, replacing him with Aaron Silcott and took off Warren Gladdy, placing Peter Lyall in the holding position.

A couple of minutes later and two substitutes combined to the give the Woods breathing space. Senior (recently signed from North Greenford United) slotted through for Aaron Lansiquot who placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner, to the delight of the home crowd. Northwood then had a lapse in concentration when they gave the ball away in the middle of the pitch. The ball was quickly played down the wing and a clever ball across was the box was going to find its way to Luke Hacker, only for Junior Osborne to cut it out in the nick of time, a man who showed his experience. Osborne and his centre half partner Liam Fowler were solid for much of the match.

Senior almost put the icing on the cake when he was played in by Ursell but he was thwarted by Middleton’s quick reflexes. However he wasn’t about to be denied next time, when a quick interchange of passes between Williamson and Lansiquot gave Senior ample time to steady himself and find the bottom corner as the Woods rounded off an impressive performance with a lovely passing move.

Northwood were definitely below par on Thursday night, and although they only lost narrowly, they were beaten by the better outfit. The Woods responded with a phenomenal showing of attacking football as they were both productive with and without the ball. Gary Meakin will unquestionably be delighted with his side as they saw off a young Bees outfit, who had secured a 4-4 draw with Liverpool reserves and beaten Northwood’s league counterparts Bedfont Town, 3-2. A positive result that Northwood will be eager to build on come Tuesday when Hanwell Town make the trip to Chestnut Avenue.