NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 1st December 2012   BURNHAM

Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 1  Burnham 2   

Hawkins 91

Bird 33, Palmer 53

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Michael Watkins
2 Ricky Rogers     2 Lee Togwell
3 Lee Grant     3 John Gray
4 Brad Hewitt     4 Tom Willment
5 Reece Yorke     5 Tom Badderley
6 John Christian     6 Dan Willment
7 Adamson Ajayi (78m)     7 Lewis Driver 
8 Craig White (78m)     18 Alex Cairns (87m)
9 Romaine Walker     9 Staforde Palmer (70m)
10 Oliver Hawkins     10 Ryan Bird 
11 Spencer Bellotti)     11 Aaron Couch (77m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Ryan Phillips     12 Josh Webb (77m)
14 James Fraser (78m)     14 John Munday
15 Adam Pepera)     15 Dan Bailey (87m)
18 Mark Burgess     16 Jordan Dowdican (70m)
17 Dean Worman (78m)     17 Matt Collis
      Referee: Russell Howes; Assistants: L Lungarella & A Anastasiou      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  

Mark Burgess’s 100% three-game record as a manager came to an end as high-flying Burnham moved to the top of the table with this hard-fought narrow victory. The match was a real battle for the Woods against physical opponents and the Blues had in-form striker Liam Bird booked just twelve minutes in for a typical challenge on Brad Hewitt.

With the two sides fairly evenly-matched for much of the early stages, there was little action in front of goal with Reece Yorke going closest for the Woods on 19 minutes as he latched onto a ball just outside the box and fired inches over the bar.

There was almost half an hour gone when Burnham had their first real sight of goal but Bird showed his positive side by getting a shot on target at the near post with James Reading alert to keep it out. Just four minutes later the visitors were in front as a channel ball down the middle saw Yorke slip on the greasy surface and Bird took the opportunity well to slot home.

It was a real blow for the Woods but they looked to hit back before half-time. Oliver Hawkins headed a free-kick down to Spencer Bellotti and when his effort was blocked, Romaine Walker attacked the box and was brought down for a penalty. With most recent successful penalty-taker Jack Hutchinson having departed to Wingate, Bellotti was next to test his expertise from the spot but sadly he became the latest Northwood player to fail the test from twelve-yards, slotting his shot wide of the goal.

Northwood continued to push forward after the break with John Christian and then Bellotti both failing to hit the target from good positions but Burnham were also looking dangerous and after new signing Staforde Palmer had seen one effort blocked by Yorke, he put the Blues further ahead on 53 minutes. Palmer had a successful one-month loan spell with the Woods a few years back, scoring a hat-trick in one away game at Hillingdon Borough and the former Met. Police striker showed that he still had an eye for goal with a fine left-foot strike into the top corner. It was a rare bit of real quality in a game that had not been for the purists at this stage.

At that stage, a comeback seemed unlikely for the Woods but hopes were raised on the hour when Lewis Driver hacked down Ricky Rogers and picked up his second yellow card of the game. Despite being a man down, Burnham went closest to increasing the lead with Reading saving from a Palmer drive and then the same player headed over when well placed.

Rogers was doing well down the right now Driver was missing from that flank and a great run and cut back set up Bellotti but his first-time shot drifted well wide. Then a pacy run from Adamson Ajayi saw him rob goalkeeper Michael Watkins out wide. His cross was palmed out by the recovering ‘keeper, the ball fell to Walker but he fired over the top.

Dean Worman and James Fraser were introduced as substitutes for some fresh legs but time was running out when Christian was then shown a harsh straight red card when clattering into Lee Togwell after losing possession.

It was only in the last five minutes that Northwood finally began to look dangerous again. Rogers drove a shot wide and then Worman set up Lee Grant for a strike that was well saved by Watkins; the first effort on target. Rogers again found Bellotti with a good ball from the right and this time the striker’s shot took a deflection and clipped the post but time was now running out.

In the final minute, Yorke hit a fierce strike from just outside the box which Watkins did well to fingertip over the crossbar but from the resulting Walker corner, Hawkins met it perfectly to power an unstoppable header into the net.

It reduced the arrears but there was no more time to look for an equaliser and the visitors climbed to the top of the table with the three hard-earned points.