NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 7th September 2013   AFC HAYES

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 2  AFC Hayes 1   

Sprague 86, Bates 90

Phillips o.g. 93

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Jake Knight     1 Ben Goode
2 Danny McDonnell     2 Jerome Eccleston
3 Ryan Phillips     3 Joseph Debayo
4 James Burgess     4 Baboucarr Jarra
5 George McCluskey     5 Charlie Goode
6 George Nicholas     6 Jack Buckle (46m)
7 Jon-Jo Bates     7 Tashan Jordan
8 Craig White     8 Jordan Lawal
9 Niko Muir (72m)     9 Danny Buckle (59m)
10 Aaron McLeish (79m)     10 Lucas Williams
11 Joakim Ehui (57m)     11 Steve Loveridge (79m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Mark Burgess     12 Lee McManus
14 Steve Brown     14 Danny Horscroft
15 Oliver Sprague (72m)     15 Mitch Gough (46m)
16 Sonny Bailey-Aird (57m)     16 Romayne Thomas (79m)
17 Garry Senior (79m)     17 Andrew Harewood (59m)
      Referee: Tim Donnellan; Assistants: M Wetherall & W Chalmers      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  

Two late goals from the Woods cheered the small crowd and secured their first home points of the season against neighbours AFC Hayes. Skipper Brad Hewitt was missing, having announced his future intention to leave the club, and he was replaced by young defender George McCluskey, newly arrived on dual-registration forms with Hendon, to play alongside new captain James Burgess. Steve Brown was left on the bench having been away unavailable for a week, while Danny McDonnell returned to the right-back position after Wealdstone recalled Orlando Rodrigues to start their league game. Craig White was making his 100th appearance for Northwood.

Within two minutes, former Woods winger Lucas Williams latched onto a Danny Buckle knock-down and got ahead of McCluskey inside the box but could only steer a shot wide and soon after a Steve Loveridge free-kick was pushed over the crossbar by goalkeeper Jake Knight. A quick break from Northwood and a sweeping move saw Joakim Ehui play Jon-Jo Bates into the box but his first touch allowed goalkeeper Ben Goode to block and then pounce on the ball as it ran loose.

The tall Buckle got his head to a deep free-kick after ten minutes but nodded the ball down and wide while a clearance from Knight then cannoned off the back of Williams towards goal but the Woods keeper recovered. It was still end-to-end stuff at this stage, with Ehui next to provide an inviting cross but Niko Muir was slow to react before Ehui got on the end of a Bates ball but shot across goal and wide.

After 25 minutes Ryan Phillips chipped a neat ball into the box and as Craig White went to meet it, he was clearly pushed in the back by his marker. The referee pointed to the spot for the first penalty of the season, and it was left-back Phillips who became the latest to volunteer to take one. Sadly he slid his spot-kick wide of the post as the Woods’ poor record from twelve yards carried over from last season.

Hayes were next to go close as a free-kick to the far post found defender Joseph Debayo unmarked but he knocked his effort wide and then Knight comfortably saved a low drive from Tashan Jordan. Long-range efforts from George Nicholas and Jack Buckle were both off-target as the two sides ended the half goalless.

The second half started more slowly with substitutions the main points to note. The Brook lost both Buckle brothers while Ehui was replaced by Sonny Bailey-Aird, who immediately showed he was keen to impress after an extended spell on the bench while improving fitness.

However, it was the visitors who could have taken the lead when a free-kick was nodded down by Debayo and Charlie Goode stabbed the ball over the top from six yards. Hayes were enjoying their best spell at this stage and substitute Mitch Gough curled a shot well over before a break from Williams saw Burgess pick up a booking as he made sure he was unable to reach a shooting position.

Knight also managed to smother the ball when it ran loose in the box after Phillips had blocked a shot on goal. Oliver Sprague replaced Muir on 72 minutes, and it added some fresh impetus to the Northwood attack. Aaron McLeish, who had been fairly quiet, blasted a shot over before he was replaced by Garry Senior who was quickly involved; linking with White to fire a shot at the keeper.

But time was running out, and it seemed to be heading for a 0-0 when the Woods got the breakthrough after 86 minutes. Bates picked up a half-cleared ball and drove into the box, finding space for a shot which crashed off the post and across goal, where Sprague was able to fire home past defenders on the line. With renewed confidence, Northwood pushed forward again, with White again slipping a ball through to Senior, whose effort was blocked but a second goal arrived in the ninetieth minute when Bates hit a clever 25-yard volley that gave Goode no chance.

That should have been game over, but the visitors rallied and after Gough had swung a shot not far wide of the target, a cross from the left saw Williams tuck the ball in from close-range and set up a nervy final couple of minutes.

But in the end, the Woods held on okay. There were plenty of firsts recorded, as not only was it the first home win of the season, it saw both Sprague and Bates net their first competitive goals for the club; the latter in his 21st appearance and after many, many near misses. Hopefully there is more to come.