NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 12th January 2013   DAVENTRY TOWN FC

Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 1   Daventry Town 1   

Hewitt 84

Thompson-Brown 88

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Richard Morris
2 Mark Burgess     2 Ross Oulton
3 Lee Grant     3 Guy Sanders
4 Brad Hewitt     4 Kyle Cartwright
5 Reece Yorke     5 Liam Dolman (62m)
6 George Nicholas     6 Adam Confue
7 Jerome Federico     7 Nat Luburd
8 Craig White     8 Neil King (62m)
9 Oliver Hawkins     9 Scott Cross
10 Niko Muir (62m)     10 Ashley Robinson (68m)
11 Adil Salih     11 Robert Thompson Brown
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Ryan Phillips     12 Jamie Gould (68m)
14 Samuel Labinjo     14 Josh Blake
15 Bradley Wilkinson     15 Michael Bryan
17 Romaine Walker     16 Ryan Howell (62m)
18 Spencer Bellotti (62m)     17 Marcel Simpson (62m)
      Referee: Mark Scholes; Assistants: Paul O'Hare & Andy Stevens      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods will have been disappointed to have not returned to winning ways after conceding a late equaliser in this hard-fought but entertaining contest with play-off contenders Daventry Town. Hoping to build on their midweek Red Insure Cup win over Hemel Hempstead, manager Mark Burgess made just one change to the starting line-up, restoring himself after suspension to replace the injured Ricky Rogers in an unfamiliar right-back position.

It was the visitors who started strongly, though, with Robert Thompson-Brown getting past Burgess and knocking in a cross which eluded everyone before James Reading was brought into action with an on-target effort from midfielder Adam Confue. Soon after, a stray pass from Jerome Federico gave Scott Cross an opportunity but he fired his shot over the bar while a deep cross saw Ashley Robinson head down but without the power to beat Reading.

Northwood were struggling to make an impact at this stage, with an Oliver Hawkins header never looking like beating Daventry keeper Robert Morris. Cross found another way past Burgess on 16 minutes but his low strike was comfortably saved by Reading, who was seeing plenty of action.

Gradually the Woods began to threaten and were denied a possible penalty as Federico raced past Ross Oulton only to be clipped as he cut back towards goal. He went down a bit too theatrically, though, and that is never likely to convince any referee. But it was the start of a good spell for Northwood with Hawkins having another header saved after a Federico cross had been knocked on to the far post before Niko Muir  drove a shot just wide after Adil Salih has robbed Guy Sanders and rolled him in with a neat pass.

George Nicholas was making his presence felt in midfield and set up Hawkins with another chance soon after but the striker rushed his effort and it flew over the bar. It was after 35 minutes that the Woods had their best chance of the half as a ball in ran loose and Brad Hewitt looked likely to sweep the ball home. Morris came out and smothered his shot well but the ball ran loose towards Muir. The youngster should have hit the target but slotted his shot well wide of the gaping goal. The visitors recovered well, though, and – still before the break – they had two more efforts on goal. Cross forced Reading into another fine save before Thompson-Brown latched onto a long ball but lifted his shot over the bar.

The second half proved no less competitive. Reading made an early save from Thompson-Brown before Federico again started to make inroads down the right up against new substitute Marcel Simpson. Twice in quick succession he burst into the box, firstly pulling the ball back for Adil Salih to fire over at the far post, then trying his luck himself but shooting well wide.

Lee Grant also failed to hit the target with a shot from just outside the box as the Woods continued to push forward and then Hawkins flicked a Reece Yorke ball into the path of Muir but Morris was out of his goal quickly to gather. Daventry continued to look dangerous on the break and they almost grabbed a lead on 63 minutes as substitute Ryan Howell let fly and saw his shot come back off the post with Reading saving from the follow-up from Cross.

Play immediately switched up the other end with Nicholas feeding Federico out wide and after substitute Spencer Bellotti saw his flicked effort blocked at the near post, Grant drove the rebound across goal but just wide of the far post. Morris made another good save to deny Federico after 78 minutes and then another clever flick from Hawkins sent Bellotti through on goal with just the keeper to beat. Perhaps he delayed his shot just a fraction too long, and it proved enough for Sanders to produce a brilliant last-ditch tackle while also avoiding bringing him down.

After 80 minutes Bellotti was denied again, this time by the keeper but then the action reverted to the Northwood penalty area as Sanders’ acrobatic kick was headed on by Cross and Reading produced an excellent fingertip save to push the ball over the crossbar.

Finally the deadlock was broken after 84 minutes. A free-kick was awarded for a handball offence wide on the right and Grant curled a great ball in which was met by Bellotti’s well-directed header. Morris did well to get down and push the ball away, but Hewitt was onto the loose ball and he crashed a shot back across goal and inside the far post to give the Woods the lead.

Now the Woods needed to continue to repel the visitors for the closing stages but just four minutes later the defence backed too much when Thompson-Brown picked up a loose ball just outside the box and he hit a hopeful low shot through a ruck of players that crept inside the post to level things up once again.

The closing stages proved frantic, with three bookings. Daventry’s one chance came from a free-kick conceded centrally outside the box but proved no real danger. Northwood’s was from another Grant free-kick; the deliver similar to the goal, finding Bellotti again but this time his header lacked power and Morris collected comfortably. In the end, both sides should have been satisfied with a point apiece though equally they would also point to things that could have swung it their way.