NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 18th March 2014   KETTERING TOWN FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 0 Kettering Town 0   

Murray 27, Muir 36, 86

Dennis 87

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Alastair Worby
2 James Duncan     2 James Clifton
3 Oliver Sprague     3 Steve Kinniburgh
4 Mark Burgess     4 Andy Gooding
5 Steve Brown     5 Henry Eze
6 Craig White     6 Tommy Hull
7 Joakim Ehui (83m)     7 Jonathan Thorpe
8 George Nicholas     8 James Jepson (74m)
9 Niko Muir     9 Elliot Sandy
10 Dave Lawrence     10 Josh Moreman
11 Karl Oliyide     11 Chris Logan
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 James Burgess     12 Dubi Ogbonna (74m)
14 Giles Townsend     14 Ash Fuller
15 Michael Murray     15 Louis Hamilton
16 Jerome Federico (83m)     16 Andy Osei-Siribour
17 Dan Daggett     17 -
      Referee: Adrian Gillett   Assistants: Nick Mackenzie & Dan Simpson      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  

A first goalless draw for two years saw the Woods just unable to inflict the first defeat in twenty matches on an in-form Kettering Town side who remain heavily fancied for a play-off place. Manager Mark Burgess went with an unchanged starting line-up from the side that had notched a narrow 1-0 away win at Chalfont St Peter at the weekend as they started the first of four consecutive home matches inside eleven days.

It was the visitors who started the game full of confidence and they forced a couple of early corners while Josh Moreman had a shot that went well wide. After seven minutes goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin was forced into his first action of the game as he dived to his left to push round a well-struck drive from striker Elliott Sandy. The Woods worked hard to get a foothold in the game though and started to create some attacks of their own before Kettering defender James Clifton knocked in an angled cross which James Duncan did well to head off for a corner under pressure from a striker at his shoulder.

Niko Muir was looking sharper as he continued his return after injury but was being well marshalled by the visitors central pairing of Henry Eze and Tommy Hull and it was Eze who showed his prowess in front of goal on 33 minutes as he headed in from a corner. However, his joy was short-lived as the referee was quick to rule it out having spotted some pushing in Steve Brown in the box. Just a minute later, it was the Woods who went close with a well-worked corner of their own that found Brown unmarked but he had to stretch and could only volley the ball wide at the far post.

As the half drew to a close, Karl Oliyide got his first real sight of goal with a pacy run and cross which was blocked at the near post. Then the Poppies forced a corner which was flicked on by Eze but Laurencin managed to claim the ball at the second attempt.

Northwood seemed to raise the tempo in the second half, and just four minutes after the restart a good move saw Muir put George Nicholas in down the right and his cross led to a first-time sweep goalwards from Dave Lawrence but the ball flashed wide of the post. Then a minute later Muir rolled Joakim Ehui into the box and goalkeeper Alastair Worby was down well to parry a save and he then recovered quickly to smother the loose ball with Craig White looking to pounce.

It was game on now and play swung from end to end with relentless frequency. Sandy tried his luck with an overhead kick that flew well wide and then the Woods went close to grabbing the lead on 57 minutes. Muir again instigated the attack with Lawrence providing an excellent ball for Oliyide to race into the box. He sped past Clifton and fired a shot across the face of goal but it flashed inches wide of the far post.

Clifton then got forward and into space for Kettering but crashed a shot well over before Muir raced forward for the Woods and cut a ball back for Ehui whose shot was blocked by Hull. It ran loose to Nicholas and his strike wasn’t far wide. Josh Moreman poked a shot wide for Kettering on 62 minutes but it was only a brief respite for the Poppies, as Northwood were enjoying their best spell of the match.

Lawrence and Ehui combined for a dangerous cross by the latter which was just cut out by some good covering defending. Then, on 65 minutes, Oliyide made a great run down the left and cut the ball back to Muir whose curling shot beat Worby but came back off the far post and was cleared to safety. Within a minute, the Poppies had their chance to claim the lead when a quick break saw Moreman square the ball accurately to Chris Logan who, put under pressure, scooped his shot over the bar from a great position.

The Woods pushed again with Lawrence having a shot blocked and then a cross from Ehui was headed away by Hull but only as far as a lurking Lawrence whose good, low drive again just failed to find the target. The impressive Clifton had another effort deflected wide for a corner to the visitors and danger man Eze dived to head wide from that but the final ten minutes saw the tempo finally drop as both sides perhaps settled for a point apiece.

On 80 minutes the Woods did spurn one final chance as Lawrence latched onto a punched clearance from Worby and slipped Muir into the box but he fluffed his finish, rolling a shot to a grateful keeper. Jerome Federico came on for Ehui with eight minutes to go but he was unable to get involved and show his pace in such a short time, with the entertaining game finally fizzling out into a 0-0 draw.

Next up for the Woods is a visit from former Woods manager Gary Meakin’s Beaconsfield Sycob side at the weekend. Both teams have players out with suspension but our opponents will still have many former Woods players in their squad so should make for another interesting encounter.