NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 10th November 2012   GUILDFORD CITY

Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 1  Guildford City 2   

Hewitt 29

Hughes 17, Moody 91

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Antony Hall
2 Ricky Rogers     2 Elvis Defreitas
3 Lee Grant     3 Ben Rayner (46m)
4 Brad Hewitt     4 Simon Cooper
5 Reece Yorke     5 Jamie Thorogood
6 John Christian (66m)     6 Corey Holder
7 Adamson Ajayi     7 Dan Moody
8 Craig White     8 Tommy Tydeman (71m)
9 Spencer Bellotti     9 Austin Gacheru
10 Leon Osei (47m)     10 Joel Hughes (78m)
11 Dean Worman     11 Dammy Bada
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Adam Pepera     12 Junior Kaffo (71m)
14 James Fraser     14 Will Heavey (46m)
15 Jack Hutchinson (66m)     15 -
16 Oliver Hawkins (47m)     16 Jeremy Williams (78m)
17 Garry Malone     17 Mike Hunt
      Referee: Dave Sheldrake; Assistants: M Fernandez & S Maynard      
  REPORT by Matt Ford    PHOTOS by Chris Pegman  

In what was Gary Meakin’s final game in charge of Northwood prior to his imminent departure to Ryman Premier League side Wingate & Finchley, the Woods were looking to get back to winning ways following a defeat on Tuesday evening that ended their three game winning run. Standing in their way were Guildford City, who have made a fine start to life at the higher level, and would surely provide a tough examination in what was a difficult game for a variety of circumstances.

The game sprung into life on a typical bumpy surface for this time of year with the recalled Spencer Bellotti showing terrific perseverance to out muscle a City defender, and when he laid it off neatly for Dean Worman just inside the box, the last thing anybody expected was for the ex Hanwell midfielder – who has established himself well recently – to drag his shot wide when he should have at least hit the target. Then, the hosts were almost gifted a goal as a stray back pass was cut out by Leon Osei who proceeded to round the goalkeeper, yet somehow Antony Hall recovered sufficiently to ensure the last touch indeed came off of Osei and out for a goal kick.

Despite the fact that the early exchanges by and large went the way of Northwood, it was Guildford who struck first, demonstrating why they currently sit in the top five – by making something out of nothing – but they did so with some considerable help from the Woods’ goalkeeper James Reading who fumbled what seemed to be a routine shot, and Joel Hughes was there to steer home the rebound after 17 minutes. Northwood were searching for a response with Bellotti trying an audacious first time volley having been put in and behind the visitors backline, though it sailed high and wide, and then Ajayi got the better of the full-back and delivered a telling ball which seemed to ricochet out for a corner though it was controversially deemed a goal kick by the officials.

Moments later and a dangerous Worman corner was headed wide by Osei from inside the six yard box and then Craig White found himself all alone by the back post but he hesitated enough to allow Hall to deflect it away from danger. But then came the equaliser, as finally Northwood’s dominance on the attempts front brought a goal. Another Worman corner found Osei and his cross-come-shot found Brad Hewitt who had just enough time to tuck the ball under Hall on 29 minutes. However, the Woods were very nearly architects of their own downfall as Reading had to scamper to recover once, then twice – and on the second occasion with his feet! The home side then broke away at pace with Ajayi getting the better of Guildford’s left-back again although he duly over hit his cross which, had it been better placed ought to have ended with Bellotti making it 2-1 to Northwood. White had a decent opening from a deflected Ajayi cross minutes before the interval but it was comfortably saved by the visiting keeper as both sides heading in level at 1-1.

Gary Meakin’s must have called for ‘more of the same’ as it was not inconceivable that Northwood could and perhaps should have gone it at the break ahead. The tempo was similar to what was shown in the first period as Bellotti raced through after brilliantly turning the defender although his shot was well saved down low by Hall. Then up the other end it was Reading’s turn to be called into action as he tipped over well from a stinging shot just outside of the eighteen yard box. It was by now firmly end to end with Worman firing wide from the edge of the area after a storming run from the half-way line. Moments later and the Woods should have moved in front after a delightful ball in evaded substitute Olly Hawkins, though it was retrieved by Worman who was in the thick of the action again, and once he set up Jack Hutchinson his effort might have found the net but for Hall in the Guildford goal who somehow kept it out.

Hawkins very nearly got himself on the score sheet after a cleverly worked free kick delivered by Worman found an isolated Hawkins on the stretch and he forced a superb reflex stop from an inspired Hall who had made some crucial stops for City this afternoon. Kevin Rayner’s side had an effort from inside the danger zone somehow go wide and had some decent crosses averted by the Woods, but were still to be presented with an opportunity to win the game and spoil the ideal finale for Gary Meakin at the club. A deep corner into the box seemingly was heading nowhere until Ricky Rogers clumsily collided with an arriving Guildford attacker – and though some referees may have deemed it a 50/50 challenge – Dave Sheldrake did not, pointing to the spot in added time.
Penalty specialist Dan Moody stepped up to power home the penalty leaving Reading with absolutely no chance and in the process sealing, what at one stage seemed an unlikely victory. Once again the Woods were left to rue missed chances. The final whistle was blown soon after as the curtain falls on Meakin’s twenty successful months in charge of Northwood. The club must turn their attention to two away fixtures, first at managerless Thatcham Town on Tuesday, before the trip to Beaconsfield this time next week.

Gary Meakin’s Post-Match comments (for the final time!)

“It wasn’t the fairytale exit I wanted, but the players did everything I asked them of them before the game. It could have turned into a match in which they turned up and went through the motions and Guildford come here and win 3 or 4-0, but I asked them before hand to put everything into it. There was only one game where I have ever questioned the players – I can’t remember which one now as it was ages ago! – but they haven’t done that, every other time they have given their all, and it’s the same old problems, individual errors costing us games.”

“I just said that in the dressing room actually; the players came in and said we didn’t deserve to lose, but I told them they did, because as a team, though we had chances and possession, Guildford didn’t make the individual errors that we made, so in that respect yes we did deserve to lose. We can’t keep giving a cheap penalty away , throwing the first goal in and not expect to lose the game, and until that is cleared up, it’s going to be the same old problem. But it’s still a tough defeat to take.”

“If our game was on Match of the Day tonight, most of the action would be us around their goal and they’d probably have about three clips – which is the goal, the penalty and one early in the second half where we stepped out and they missed an effort in the six yard box, that’s probably the only highlights they would get!  Whereas there would be numerous clips of ours. But we don’t put the chances into the net; putting it in the net and not making silly mistakes win you the game.”

“Was it a difficult decision to leave the club? That’s a difficult question, because if I say no it sounds like I left here easily, whereas if I say yes it’s almost like I’m thinking about not going to Wingate & Finchley. It’s one of those things that come out of the blue, and really it turned into an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. Everyone here at Northwood has done everything and I am sad to leave. Today shows you why I am sad to leave because everyone is in it together. But for the personal ambitions I’ve got, it’s the right decision.

“Of course the club can be competitive without me, as I am only one piece of the puzzle. The next manager will step in, and hopefully the squad will stay together because they are a good bunch of lads and players, and they all like and get on with each other. So it’s not like it’s perfect time for them to leave, they are all in it together, so as I say hopefully they stick together.”

All that is left is to wish Gary Meakin all the very best at Ryman Premier League side Wingate & Finchley!
Gary Meakin at Northwood (24th March 2011- 10th November 2012)
Played: 86, Won: 39, Drew: 15, Lost: 32
Win Percentage: 45.34%