NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 21st September 2013   AYLESBURY FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 0  Aylesbury 1   


Stevens 35

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Sean Thomas     1 Rhys Marshall
2 Ramil Sheriff     2 Lamar Simpson
3 Ryan Phillips     3 Matt Hall
4 James Burgess     4 Kwasi Frempong
5 Steve Brown     5 Lee Grant
6 Craig White     6 Ben Stevens (75m)
7 Mark Burgess (73m)     7 Jerome Federico
8 Jon-Jo Bates     8 Sonny French
9 Oliver Sprague (70m)     9 Gareth Price (56m)
10 Reece Grant     10 Ollie Hogg
11 Sonny Bailey-Aird (56m)     11 Jack Thomson (46m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 George Nicholas     12 Davis Haule (46m)
14 Joakim Ehui (70m)     14 Brian Haule (56m)
15 Dave Lawrence (56m)     15 Alex Kedzierski (75m)
16 Garry Senior (73m)     16 Elias Armah-Tackie
17 Aaron McLeish     17 Craig Faulconbridge
      Referee: Paul Forrester; Assistants: John Wynne & R Chamberlain      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  

Manager Mark Burgess made seven changes to the starting line-up following Tuesday night’s thrashing at Uxbridge with three new signings looking to strengthen the squad. Experienced goalkeeper Sean Thomas, who had three games for the Woods back in September 2011, returned to give Jake Knight a rest, while former Norwich City defender Ramil Sheriff came in at right-back and Reece Grant, who looked sharp in pre-season games for Northwood, returned up front on a short loan deal from Wealdstone. Sonny-Bailey Aird and Mark Burgess himself also started a game for the first time this season.

The visitors have been renowned for being a destination for ex-Northwood players but they only have four at present, with Lee Grant, Kwasi Frempong, Lamar Simpson and Jerome Federico all lining up for the Moles who had made a slow start to their season.

After a cagey start to the game, Reece Grant latched onto a Bailey-Aird pass and fired for goal but the ball flew wide of the target and the eventful start to the young striker’s debut continued a minute later when he picked up a yellow card after catching Ben Stevens with a late challenge.

Gareth Price shot well wide for the visitors shortly afterwards when latching onto a Jack Thomson header and then a good cross from Price saw Mark Burgess caught in possession by Thomson who nipped in but shot over the bar.

As usual, the Woods approach play was effective enough. Both Bailey-Aird and Oliver Sprague attached freely but the final ball was lacking and Grant lacked support up front so was often crowded out. After 24 minutes, some poor defensive work allowed Thomson to roll the ball forward to Sonny French who shot low but without the power to beat Thomas who saved comfortably. Four minutes later, French turned provider with a cross that gave Price a free header but he flicked it wide.

Aylesbury continued to shade it and James Burgess gave away a free-kick just outside the area when clipping Federico but Grant curled his effort from 20 yards well over the top. At the other end, Northwood should have led when Sprague’s accurate corner was met by Mark Burgess in front of goal but he only flicked his header wide of the far post. It was after 35 minutes that the game got a brief lift out of the doldrums as a free-kick was played in and when French flicked the ball on, it dropped kindly for skipper Stevens who stabbed the ball home from five yards.

The Woods had an opportunity to level just before the break, though, as an otherwise quiet Jon-Jo Bates ran onto a through-ball and though goalkeeper Rhys Marshall just managed to beat him to it and toe the ball away from goal, it fell to Sprague, who should have done better than just shoot against a covering defender.

For anyone who was late coming out for the second half, they missed absolutely nothing for the first fifteen minutes apart from a few substitutions which saw the experienced Haule brothers; Davis and Brian replace Thomson and Stevens while Dave Lawrence was introduced for Bailey-Aird. Apart from a long-range Federico effort which flew over, neither side created anything of note but when Joakim Ehui came on for Sprague, he raised hopes with a couple of early forays down the right.

He won a free-kick and when Ryan Phillips knocked the ball to the near-post, Lawrence looked likely to go for goal but in fact only flicked the ball up and the keeper claimed the loose ball. Another Ehui run and cross into the middle caused problems as Frempong failed to clear but there was no-one to claim it and then when another centre from Ehui found Grant his shot on the turn was blocked.

The Woods won a free-kick just outside the area after 85 minutes but Phillips was unable to keep his shot down and test the keeper. Time was running out, and Northwood took a few risks at the back but when Steve Brown saw his attempted clearance hit Federico, the former Woods winger looked certain to score as he burst forward and into the box. Yet Brown got back and timed his tackle to perfection to poke the ball away when any mistake would have been a penalty and a red card.

It took Northwood 87 minutes to finally record a shot on target, and it was no surprise that it came from the lively Grant as he worked space for a good strike that was well gathered low down by Marshall to ensure he remained unbeaten. The game petered out after that with Aylesbury happy to hold on to their narrow victory in a match that is unlikely to bring the crowds back to Northwood Park.