THATCHAM TOWN   Tuesday 13th October 2012   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division

  Thatcham Town 1 Northwood 4   

Seaward 82

Bellotti 13, Hutchinson 26,
Ajayi 41, 89

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Jon Beames     1 James Reading
2 Damien Smith     2 Ricky Rogers
3 Alex Charlick (20m)     3 Lee Grant
4 Tom Mudge     4 Brad Hewitt
5 Matt Bowler     5 Reece Yorke (88m)
6 Dave Asker (46m)     6 John Christian
7 Jacob Mingle     7 Adamson Ajayi
8 Charlie Hill (46m)     8 Craig White (80m)
9 Miles Jones     9 Spencer Bellotti
10 Danny Seaward     10 Leon Osei (74m)
11 Danny Langford     11 Jack Hutchinson
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Stephen Noakes (46m)     12 Ryan Phillips
14 Adam Everiss (46m)     14 Adam Pepera (88m)
15 Sam Flegg (20m)     15 James Fraser (80m)
16 Kieren Maylen     17 Oliver Hawkins (74m)
17 Aaron Bufton     18 Mark Burgess
      Referee: Matt Eva; Assistants:Jonathan Livingston & Mike Wheeler      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  

Northwood’s first contest against Thatcham Town for over twenty years coincided with the arrival of former skipper Mark Burgess as the new first-team manager and he replaced new Wingate & Finchley boss Gary Meakin in the dugout. He pretty much kept faith with the side that had unluckily lost at home to high-flying Guildford City at the weekend with the only change being Jack Hutchinson coming in to replace the unavailable Dean Worman after Leon Osei recovered from the injury he picked up on Saturday.

Thatcham had seen many changes at Waterside Park in recent weeks too, with the experienced Dave Mudge coming in alongside Scott Tarr as a new management partnership after a poor start to the campaign had led to Neville Roach leaving his post. Several new players had arrived, including former Woods midfielder Miles Jones, and results had subsequently improved so the Kingfishers were looking to continue with that momentum.

The home side started confidently enough with Jacob Mingle firing a shot from distance straight at James Reading and then the Woods ‘keeper pulled off a fine reflex save to keep out a near-post header from Tom Mudge. The Woods started to settle with Osei knocking a Spencer Bellotti cross wide of the target and then Bellotti raced onto a neat Reece Yorke ball and would have been in on goal but for a poor first touch which saw the ball bobble wide.

But with Thatcham’s defence looking far from solid, a similar ball, this time from Craig White put Bellotti in again after 14 minutes and this time he controlled well and fired a crisp shot past Jon Beames in goal for the opening goal. Just three minutes later the former Oxhey front-man was making a nuisance of himself again and his chip had Beames beaten but it drifted wide of the post.

Northwood continued to enjoy the majority of possession, with the home side only looking to threaten from set-pieces and when a corner was only half-cleared out to Hutchinson he took aim and fired a shot which flashed only just over the top corner of the goal. Adamson Ajayi was starting to make inroads down the left and a typical run and good long-range strike was stopped by Beames in an unconventional manner of blocking the ball like a defender but it was effective enough.

The Woods snatched a second goal after 29 minutes when Hutchinson reached a loose ball first on the edge of the box and poked an accurate shot past a couple of defenders and inside the far post, giving Beames no chance. It was almost three after 36 minutes when John Christian threaded a neat ball through and Bellotti again finished in style but this time a late offside flag pulled the play back with the goal ruled out.

Beames made a good save to deny Osei two mnutes later after he latched onto a knock-down from Bellotti but after 41 minutes Osei turned provider with a neat ball to Ajayi who drifted in and drilled a firm shot past the keeper. There was a further chance to increase that lead before the half-time break as Beames handled a tricky a back-pass but the low free-kick from eight yards never looked like breaching the defensive wall, though Beames was only a couple of yards away when he blocked with his legs.

Thatcham made a double change to start the second-half with former Wood Charlie Hill one of the players to be subbed and, having been forced into once replacement due to an injury in the first period, it meant that they had their eleven for the second forty-five minutes. It did seem to have the desired effect of creating a more solid unit, though Hutchinson almost added his second as he jinked into the box from a wide position and pulled a shot across the face of goal which flashed just inches wide of the far post.

Chances were fewer for the Woods but all seemed to fall to the teenager with Hutchinson hitting one long-distance shot straight at Beames and then another well over after the defence had cleared a Bellotti cut-back.
The Kingfishers finally managed to make some inroads midway through the second-half and after 70 minutes another set-piece dropped kindly to substitute Stephen Noakes but he miskicked in front of goal. Reading also dealt comfortably with a header soon after while Osei had a chance to extend the Northwood lead when through with just Beames to beat but he went too wide to convert from an angle.

Oliver Hawkins and James Fraser replaced Osei and Craig White with ten minutes remaining and just two minutes later, the home side did pull a goal back to raise their hopes as a simple ball was slipped through and top scorer Danny Seaward finished coolly. If Noakes’s effort had not crashed against the bar a minute later, it might have made for an interesting finale but the Woods survived and then finished back on top.

Hutchinson burst through again down the right and might have had a shot himself but instead fed Hawkins who looped his effort well over the bar. Christian fired a good shot not far wide soon after and, after Adam Pepera had replaced a limping Yorke, the Woods then notched a fourth goal just into stoppage-time. Ajayi won a challenge just inside his own half and then led the charge of three attackers against just one defender. He played in Hutchinson who returned the favour with a square ball that allowed Ajayi to fire in his second of the game.