NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 7th December 2013   AYLESBURY UNITED

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 1 Aylesbury United 1   

Lawrence 12

Blackett 57

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Tomer Sherman     1 Alex Tokarczyk
2 Ramil Sheriff     2  Steve Hatch
3 Oliver Sprague     3 Keith Williams
4 Mark Burgess     4 Danny Jones
5 Steve Brown     5 Bill Morgan
6 James Burgess     6 Liam Smyth
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Ben Baines (66m)
8 Craig White     8 Greg Williams
9 Niko Muir     9 Jason Blackett
10 Dave Lawrence     10 Stacey Field
11 Karl Oliyide (64m)     11 Don Petrucci (83m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 James Duncan     12 Paul Edgeworth (66m)
14 George Nicholas     14 Joey Acheampong (83m)
15 Jake Knight     15 Lee Grace
16 Luke Fox     16 Tony Joyce
17 Michael Murray (64m)     17 -
      Referee: Jason Connolly; Assistants: Peter Meek & Steve Hawkes      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods had to settle for just a point as their recent goalscoring form abandoned them against an Aylesbury United side reduced to ten-men for the final twenty minutes. Mark Burgess made just one change to the side that had lost at Rugby Town a week earlier, with goalkeeper Tomer Sherman returning from injury to replace Rob Blackburne between the sticks.

The Ducks were missing a couple of regulars through suspension and that showed in the early stages as Northwood began brightly. After just four minutes, top scorer Niko Muir worked some space for a shot on the turn which was well-saved low down by goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk. Then, a sweeping move from Karl Oliyide and Dave Lawrence led to another chance for Muir but this time he hit it straight at the keeper.

A defensive error allowed Muir another sight of goal soon after and this time his powerful strike took a deflection and sailed wide but the Woods didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal. It came after 12 minutes as Muir turned provider with a run and cross from the right that was swept neatly inside the post by Lawrence to beat the diving keeper. It was the fourth goal in the last three games for the player signed in the summer but who had a delayed start to the campaign. There should be more to come.

The Woods defence had not seen much to trouble them and Sherman was brought into action for the first time to take Dom Petrucci’s curling strike comfortably on 22 minutes and then he had to stop Steve Hatch’s near-post effort at the near-post a few minutes later. But the Woods looked comfortable in front and after 26 minutes Muir again latched onto some poor passing in defence and an excellent strike was pushed wide by the alert Tokarczyk. The Ducks gradually stemmed the flow of the attacks and it was only towards half-time that Northwood came close to adding to the scoreline when a free-kick fell to Oliyide, whose shot was blocked.

Just after the restart, another good combination between Lawrence and Muir set up Joakim Ehui for a shot but it was straight at the grateful goalkeeper and then Ducks striker Jason Blackett picked up the first yellow card of the game. On 52 minutes a run and cross from Oliyide saw Ehui just beat the keeper to the ball with a rare header but the ball spun and dropped to safety and was cleared.

It was after 57 minutes that Aylesbury drew level with the dangerous Stacey Field finding a bit more space than usual to turn and shoot towards the far post. It was going wide but Blackett pounced ahead of his marked to force the ball home with Sherman unable to stop conceding his first goal in a Northwood shirt.

The Woods could have regained the lead almost immediately as Oliyide broke down the left and found Lawrence who slipped in Muir but he again hit his shot directly at the keeper who saved easily. Michael Murray, back after a hamstring injury, was brought on to replace the pacy Oliyide after 64 minutes as Northwood looked for an extra threat and the burly attacker soon drove a shot across goal and only just wide of the post. Five minutes later more good approach play saw the ball fed to Lawrence who volleyed only just over from the edge of the area. The game still appeared to be going the home side’s way before Blackett got into further trouble on 71 minutes as a swinging arm into Steve Brown led to a second yellow and left the Ducks with ten men.

The visitors regrouped and the Woods were slow to find the extra man with no chance coming their way until the 78th minute as Lawrence’s clever play again found Muir around the edge of the box, and he did well to turn and shoot but Tokarczyk was again down low to make a fine save. Aylesbury defended resolutely and restricted the Woods as they failed to dominate the midfield but the best chance to win the game for Northwood came after 83 minutes as Murray fed Ehui out wide and his cross seemed to be dropping perfectly for the head of Muir but the striker failed to make contact.

With time running out, Murray saw an effort blocked by the elbow of Danny Jones in the area but a penalty would have been harsh and from the counter-attack, Aylesbury almost snatched an unlikely victory. Substitute Paul Edgeworth split the defence with an accurate pass and Field was ahead of the chasing pack. Sherman hesitated at first but then raced out of his goal and managed to smother the striker’s shot for a vital save.

Time added on perhaps did not quite do justice to the amount of time-wasting allowed but the final two efforts from Northwood never looked likely to make the game a winning one. First, Mark Burgess got forward and went for glory with a long-range left-footed drive which sailed wide and then Brown got on the end of a cross but steered it wide of the goal.

The Woods stay fifth after what was their first drawn home game of the season and they now move on to Tuesday night’s County Cup tie against Spartan South Midlands League neighbours Hanwell Town, who are really flying this season, followed by next Saturday’s League game when third-placed Barton Rovers visit Northwood Park.