AFC Dunstable 1  Northwood 8

Sunday 22nd July 2012


James Reading
Scott Raper
Ronayne Marsh-Brown
Lee Grant
Brad Hewitt
Reece Yorke
Alex Paine
James Fraser
Romaine Walker
Oliver Hawkins
Dean Worman
Ryan Phillips (11, 70m)

Part two of the busy weekend schedule took the Woods off to AFC Dunstable, who enjoyed an excellent campaign last season, challenging for promotion from the Spartan South Midlands League for much of that time before eventually finishing third.

As yesterday, Gary Meakin went with just a bare eleven players expected to perform for ninety minutes but that plan was thwarted when striker Spencer Bellotti turned his ankle in lengthy grass during the pre-match warm-up and had to limp off with possible ligament damage. It meant Reece Yorke had to slot into the defence for his second game in twenty-four hours, while Scott Raper moved out to a wing-back role and Romaine Walker moved up front.

The home side had also had a run-out on Saturday, a home game against a strong Luton Town outfit that saw them given the runaround and a 7-1 beating, but they wouldn’t have been expecting to be exposed in much the same way by the Woods. Yet Northwood were rampant from the start, with newcomer Dean Worman flicking a Ronayne Marsh-Brown cross inches wide of the near post in the very first minute.

Walker was clearly going to be causing the AFC Dunstable defence plenty of problems but his first effort on goal was horribly skewed wide, yet after seven minutes he showed clever footwork inside the box to skip past two defenders and the keeper before slipping the ball home from an acute angle for the opening goal. Two minutes later Oliver Hawkins hooked a shot wide after being put through by Yorke, and then James Fraser shot well wide after more good work by the impressive debutant Worman.

The second goal came after 17 minutes after good approach work by Raper which led to the hard-working Fraser laying a ball into the path of Walker, who jinked inside the box and fired home. Walker then turned provider with a pinpoint cross to the head of Hawkins but the tall striker knocked the ball wide of the far post.

The home side had a rare attack on 23 minutes, which resulted in James Reading diving to push a cracking shot wide but the Woods continued to dominate, playing at a tempo that AFC were not able to live with. Three minutes later a great move started with Marsh-Brown exchanging passes with Worman and darting into the box, where he whipped in a cross that Raper met at the far post with a crisp strike that gave the keeper no chance.

As AFC tried to get back into the game, they were disappointed by having a goal ruled out for offside but it stayed 3-0 at half-time as Alex Paine and Worman both fired shots over the bar while the home keeper also just kept out another good low strike from Worman.

It took only four minutes of the second half for the Woods to add a fourth goal as Walker made another pacy run and cross from the left. Fraser raced into the box to flick a shot goalwards and when it rebounded off the keeper, he followed up swiftly to score. The former Harrow Borough man was getting forward well and another shot crept just wide before the keeper kept out another one soon after. It was Hawkins turn to go close again next as he got on the end of another Raper cross but the ball rolled wide yet again.

Worman almost added a fifth on 56 minutes as he was put through by Fraser, taking the ball past the keeper but his goalbound shot was blocked on the line. Hawkins knocked the loose ball back to him, but this time his effort was saved. But the Woods didn’t have to wait long for the fifth goal, and it came via another speedy run from Walker, straight down the middle and firing home to complete an excellent hat-trick after 58 minutes.

Just three minutes later Marsh-Brown knocked in another cross from the left and a defensive slip presented Paine with an excellent opportunity to fire in his first goal and the Woods led 6-0. Hawkins yet again went close with a shot from Marsh-Brown’s cross and then the tiring Worman was replaced by the only substitute on the bench, Ryan Phillips.

AFC Dunstable notched a consolation goal to spoil Reading’s clean sheet aspirations after 76 minutes with a header from a deep cross but within a minute, the six-goal margin was regained as Walker jinked past a couple of defenders to notch his fourth. Fraser looked likely to score after latching onto a good ball from Phillips after 86 minutes, but he lifted his shot too high over the stranded keeper and it was just a minute from time that Northwood finally wrapped up the scoring. Phillips sent Marsh-Brown down the left once more, and this time his cut-back allowed Hawkins to take one touch and fire home for last season’s top scorer to notch his first goal of pre-season.

The Woods now concentrate on the training pitch for the midweek period before returning to Spartan South Midlands opposition with visits to Tring Athletic next Saturday and then Hanwell Town the following Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Spencer Bellotti will face his own targets of recovering fitness in time for the start of the season.