AFC DUNSTABLE   Wednesday 26th September 2012   NORTHWOOD FC

FA Cup with Budweiser 2nd Qualifying Round Replay

  AFC Dunstable 0  Northwood 3    


Raper 15, Ajayi 60, 85

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Sam Leggett     1 James Reading
2 Luke Little     2 Scott Raper
3 Lee Burgoyne (70m)     3 Ryan Phillips
4 James Baldry     4 Lee Grant
5 Danny Ryan     5 Reece Yorke
6 Steve Hawes     6 John Christian
7 Dale Turney (76m)     7 Adamson Ajayi
8 Gareth Harnaman (70m)     8 Craig White
9 Bernard Christie     9 Oliver Hawkins (73m)
10 Graham Clark     10 Jack Hutchinson (79m)
11 Jason Blackett     11 Romaine Walker (73m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Hayden Mills (76m)     12 Danny McDonnell
14 Steve Howarth     14 Dean Worman (79m)
15 Kerran Birch (70m)     15 James McCluskey (73m)
16 Wayne Mills (70m)     16 Spencer Bellotti (73m)
17 Connor Lambert     17 Garry Malone
18 -     18 -
19 -     19 -
      Referee: Benjamin James; Assistants: John McGroary & Bob Trinder      
  REPORT by Alan Evans      PHOTOS by James Brown  

A replay at Spartan South Midlands League side AFC Dunstable was not in Northwood’s plans for midweek, but needs must and after scrapping out a 1-1 draw at Chestnut Avenue on Saturday, the journey up the M1 to the welcoming Creasey Park beckoned. Manager Gary Meakin made just one change to the starting line-up from the weekend cup-tie, with teenager Jack Hutchinson coming into the midfield as a replacement for goalscorer James McCluskey.

Sometimes with cup replays, the games become very cagey with both sides looking to cancel each other out, but there was none of that in this very open and entertaining contest which always looked full of goals. After just four minutes Hutchinson won a good tackle just outside the box and fed Romaine Walker but he drilled his shot just wide of the post. Two minutes later, the play switched up the other end with a good ball in from Gareth Harnaman but Jason Blackett was unable to find any real direction on his free header.

Adamson Ajayi had proved a real handful for the OD’s defence on Saturday and he was full of confident attacking running in this game, creating the next chance by streaking into the box and his cross fell kindly to John Christian who scooped the ball over the bar from the edge of the box. The Woods were already gaining an edge but they were gifted the lead after 15 minutes when home goalkeeper Sam Leggett chose to punch out a Walker free-kick but it cannoned straight into the challenging Scott Raper and rebounded into the net.
The chances flowed from there, with Leggett redeeming himself with a series of fine saves. The first, a direct strike from a Walker free-kick was simple enough but he then pulled off a double stop from Hutchinson and Raper in quick succession. Oliver Hawkins headed another Ajayi cross just over the bar and then marauding defender Raper flicked a Ryan Phillips cross just wide as the Woods continued to go close.

AFC Dunstable still looked dangerous on the break with BJ Christie the main threat and he drove a shot across the face of James Reading’s goal after 29 minutes but it was only a brief respite as Ajayi and Christian both drove shots high or wide. A few challenges were getting a bit heavy and the referee responded with a quick booking apiece, and it seemed to have the desired effect as both sides got back to the matter in hand. Walker began to carve openings for himself and burst through on goal, but shot too early with the ball always rising and a minute later he knocked in a free-kick which was perfect for Hawkins at the far post but his header flashed inches over the bar.

With five minutes to go to half-time, the Woods were still looking for that important second goal and when Christian threaded a superb ball into the box for Raper to run onto once again it seemed likely, but again Leggett spread himself well to pull off the best save of the match. The home side had a stab at levelling before the break when Blackett drove a shot across the face but it sailed wide with just one goal the difference.

After Hutchinson had seen a long-range effort spin wide early on in the second half, there was perhaps the only lull in the game for the next ten minutes or so, but the Woods then took a grip on play again, with a close effort from Ajayi being followed by a second goal on the hour. It was a neat lay-off by Hawkins that put Ajayi in front of goal and a quick sidestep past his marker was followed by a crisp finish that gave Leggett no chance.

Afc Dunstable spurned a great opportunity to reduce the arrears just two minutes later as a long-ball into the box saw Blackett escape his marker and dive full length but he could only steer his header wide. The home side made a couple of substitutions to add fresh legs to the fray but almost immediately fell further behind as a combination of challenges from Dan Ryan and sub Wayne Mills curtailed Walker’s jinking run into the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Having been off the field when Christian had his spot-kick saved on Saturday, Walker resumed the responsibility this time but again the result was the same, with Leggett diving low to block his shot. The ball rebounded back to Walker though and he looked likely to score but the keeper recovered well to block again and then Hutchinson’s follow-up was deflected wide.

Leggett wasn’t finished yet, and he made another good save to tip over a Hutchinson strike after Ajayi had worked the ball across to him while the Woods also made a series of substitutions. There was a late rally from the home side. Christie forced Reading into a good save and then Graham Clark shot wide but it was Christie who went closest on 84 minutes when his clever lob came back off the crossbar. Just a minute later a quick break saw McCluskey deliver a good cross from the right and Ajayi was there to meet it with a firm header for his second of the game and wrap up a comfortable 3-0 victory.

So the Woods are through to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup for only the third time in their history and the first time for eleven years. On that occasion they were given a difficult away tie at Kettering Town and lost 3-0. This time, though the opposition is similarly tough, the Woods do at least have home advantage and will be looking to make that count.