NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 14th December 2013   BARTON ROVERS FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 2 Barton Rovers 1   

Oliyide 28, Lawrence 43

Dance 61

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Danny McNicholas     1 Kyle Forster
2 James Duncan     2 Niran Vaughan (85m)
3 Oliver Sprague     3 Liam McDevitt
4 Mark Burgess     4 Peter Gatti
5 Steve Brown     5 Paul Andrews
6 James Burgess     6 Joe Reynolds
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Ricky Case
8 Craig White     8 Luke Knight
9 Niko Muir     9 Bobby Dance (72m)
10 Dave Lawrence     10 Jermaine Hall
11 Karl Oliyide (81m)     11 Rhys Hoenes (62m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Alex Nolan     12 Bilal Hassan (85m)
14 Tommy Walsh     14 Stevie Thomas (72m)
15 Michael Murray (89m)     15 Keshi Anderson (62m)
16 -     16 Nyasha Segwete
17 -     17 Danny Payne
      Referee: Michael Webb; Assistants: Andy Mawby & Chris Potter      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  


Third-placed Barton arrived at Chestnut Avenue having enjoyed one of their best starts to a season for many years and had even flirted with the top of the table at times, so a tough game was expected as the Woods looked to extend their own impressive run of form. With first-choice goalkeeper Tomer Sherman having been called up by Hendon for their Ryman Premier side, Mark Burgess kept faith with 17-year-old Danny McNicholas in goal, while James Duncan replaced the injured Ramil Sheriff.

After a slow start to the game, the visitors started to enjoy plenty of possession and recorded the first effort on goal after ten minutes as Ricky Case cut in from the right and fired a shot across the goal and wide. Five minutes later some hesitation in defence led to Mark Burgess rushing a clearance straight to Rhys Hoenes but his attempt was always well wide.

Joakim Ehui was finding some joy down the right and his first cross was well cut out by goalkeeper Kyle Forster as the two sides battled hard to make the running, but it was Barton who continued to look more dangerous. After 18 minutes Joe Reynolds fired a free-kick wide of the post and three minutes later McNicholas misjudged the bounce of a ball into the box and Jermaine Hall looked likely to hook in the loose ball before seeing his effort blocked for a corner.

Then a poor goal-kick from the young keeper fell to Bobby Dance, who volleyed straight for goal but it sailed well over as Rovers continued to look less than accurate in front of goal. The Woods hit back, and after 27 minutes Karl Oliyide showed his pace down the right before knocking a good ball across goal to the far post, where Ehui went close to adding the vital touch.

Just a minute later, play moved to the other flank as Ehui made inroads and cut in to fire for goal. Forster could not hold on to his diving save and Oliyide reacted quickly to lift a shot into the roof of the net, putting the Woods in front with his fifth goal in six games. The Blues tried to hit back quickly and Hoenes met a good cross from Reynolds with a firm header but McNicholas dived across quickly to palm the ball wide and he was also well behind a 25-yard snap-shot from Dance on 35 minutes as the Woods looked to maintain their advantage.

Craig White got forward to launch a long-range effort which Forster took comfortably and then the Woods almost gifted Barton an equaliser on 39 minutes as Mark Burgess’s attempted clearance of a Paul Andrews header hit Hall and rebounded only just wide of the post. The play switched back to the other end, and a Dave Lawrence corner saw Oliver Sprague head towards goal with Niko Muir heading on but also just over the bar. Yet the Woods didn’t have long to wait for a second goal as Lawrence was given too much room some 20 yards from goal and he fired home for a fine solo effort, his fifth in the last five matches.

The visitors thought they might have pulled one back just before half-time as a shot was tucked in from close-range but it was ruled out by an assistant’s offside flag. Barton came out for the second half with a more direct approach but their early efforts still failed to find the target and the Woods looked to take it away from the visitors with Lawrence shooting just over and then a Muir volley being well saved by Forster.

But Rovers did finally get on the scoresheet after 61 minutes as Case took full advantage of a defensive slip to race into the box and neatly chip the ball past McNicholas. The Woods raised their defensive game after this and really restricted Barton to possession but with little impact in the final third and when Ehui found Muir on the edge of the box, he turned his marker well and poked a shot goalbound but it was straight at Forster.

Luke Knight swung a shot over the bar after 73 minutes and then came the Blues’ best chance of an equaliser six minutes later. Substitute Stevie Thomas headed a long ball on and Case stole in round the back again, but this time McNicholas was alert and out quickly to block his shot. A minute later it was Forster’s turn to make a hash of an attempted clearance and Oliyide did well to strike the ball on target from thirty yards but it did not quite have the pace to stop the keeper recovering to slide across and block the ball.

Thomas was perhaps lucky to escape a red card rather the yellow he received for an over the top challenge on Duncan late in the game, but Barton battled through to the end for the goal they needed. It was Northwood who went closest to scoring, though, as substitute Michael Murray exchanged passes with Ehui and then swept his shot inches wide of the post while Muir then fired wide from a good position.

It was in the sixth minute of stoppage-time that Barton won a corner and from that Liam McDevitt headed back across the face of goal but it bounced to safety and the Woods had secured three more valuable points. They now travel to league leaders Dunstable Town next Saturday in their final game before Christmas and one that will complete what has already been an impressive first half of the league campaign.