FLEET TOWN   Saturday 3rd November 2012   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division

  Fleet Town 1  Northwood 2   

Vicente 77

Osei 8, White 69

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Ryan Pryce     1 James Reading
2 Gareth Byres     2 Ricky Rogers
3 Phil Moore     3 Ryan Phillips
4 Louis Wilson      4 Lee Grant
5 Pat Cox     5 Reece Yorke
6 Craig Davis      6 John Christian (79m)
7 James Pilgrim (74m)     7 Jack Hutchinson
8 Marc Vockins (46m)     8 Craig White
9 Jack White (63m)     9 Oliver Hawkins (75m)
10 Mark Watkins      10 Leon Osei
11 Danilo Cadete     11 Dean Worman (62m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Danilson Vicente (46m)     12 Brad Hewitt
14 Gavin Miller (63m)     14 James McCluskey (79m)
15 Ben White (74m)     15 Adamson Ajayi (62m)
16 James Scott     16 Spencer Bellotti (75m)
17 Chris Smalley     17 Jack Middleton
      Referee: Kieran Bailey; Assistants: John Balcombe & Mike Desborough      
  REPORT by Alan Evans      PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods notched their third successive league win, but were made to work for it by a battling Fleet Town side that couldn’t quite claw their way back into the match. There was a setback for Northwood’s plans on the way to the game as Brad Hewitt’s car gave up on him on the Motorway and less than prompt service from the AA meant he was unlikely to get there for kick-off. So in came Ryan Phillips at left-back with Lee Grant moving into a central defensive position. The rest of the starting line-up remained unchanged, with Romaine Walker and Scott Raper both still ruled out with injury.

Having won a League Cup game at Fleet just a few weeks earlier, Northwood started this match full of confidence and Leon Osei had already seen one effort hit the side-netting before he gave the Woods an eighth minute lead. Jack Hutchinson knocked in a good cross from the right and when Oliver Hawkins nodded the ball down, Osei controlled it well before firing a crisp shot past goalkeeper Ryan Pryce. It was the tall striker’s second goal since his return to the club, and just two minutes later he almost added another as he got on the end of a Phillips cross and whipped a shot which flashed just over the crossbar.

Northwood should have been further ahead on 14 minutes when some excellent approach work involving Phillips, Dean Worman and Osei led to Hawkins dummying a cross and Hutchinson being presented with a clear shot at goal, but he put the ball the wrong side of the post. A minute later, the home side had their first effort on goal as Pat Cox scooped a shot wide after a cross from Danilo Cadete, while Jack White headed wide from a cross soon after. It was only a brief respite though as the Woods continued to dominate with Worman and John Christian both shooting just wide after lay-offs from the impressive Osei and then Hawkins headed over from a Worman cross but Fleet hung on to half-time with the game still in their sights.

Attacking down the slope for the second period, Fleet brought on striker Danilson Vicente as a substitute following his recent return to the club, but still the Woods pressed and Osei latched onto another good ball from Hutchinson and side-stepped his marker before curling a shot that beat Pryce but was just too high. The threat of Hawkins on the end of a Worman cross earned a corner and from that Craig White volleyed and Pryce did well to palm the ball away.

After 52 minutes Osei broke up a long series of passes around the Fleet back line and found Hawkins around the edge of the box but the striker’s shot on the turn was saved low down by the keeper. White was unusually getting forward, and two minutes later he dribbled his way into the box and again brought Pryce into action with a crisp shot, while Hutchinson was next with a chance but this time he skied his effort miles over when well-placed.

The home goalkeeper had enjoyed a man of the match performance in a league game last season, and he was earning his place in this game too and after 57 minutes he was in the right place to hold a powerful shot from Osei after he had again powered his way into a shooting position. Almost immediately, a quick break from Fleet led to a chance for Vicente and though he shot well wide, it appeared to lift the spirits of the home side as a few minutes later Cadete provided a good ball in for White but he also sliced his shot wide of the target.

Adamson Ajayi replaced Worman, and he was soon threatening down the right with his pace. He strode forward after 68 minutes and let fly with a shot that Pryce could only fumble wide of the post. From the resulting corner, Christian chipped the ball in, Hawkins headed down and White pounced from eight yards with a strike that the Fleet defence could not keep out. It was the midfielder’s first goal since January.

A minute later Christian almost made it 3-0 when shooting low and just wide after a touch from Hawkins while Cadete fired over at the other end as the home side began to thrown players forward. Christian pumped in a long-range free-kick which dropped only just over the bar, but after 77 minutes Fleet pulled a goal back. Grant slipped and let in Vicente who cut in from the right and fired a crisp shot across James Reading with a slight deflection which carried the ball into the far corner.

Spencer Bellotti and James McCluskey replaced Hawkins and Christian, who had both taken knocks as the game became a little feistier and a few yellow cards just about kept things at bay. But Fleet were unable to find enough in front of goal to level things up with a flicked header from substitute Gavin Miller which looped over the top being the closest they came.

It was a game that Northwood should have put to bed early, but in the end they were content to hold on to all three points having nullified most of the home side’s attacks and the side now face a test with two home matches against top-four sides with promoted duo Royston Town and Guildford City due at Chestnut Avenue this week.