ROYSTON TOWN FC   Saturday 16th November 2013   NORTHWOOD FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Royston Town 2  Northwood 2  

Murray 82, De La Salle 95

Endacott o.g. 46, Muir 82

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Zach Binge     1 Danny McNicholas
2 Lewis Endacott     2 Ramil Sheriff
3 Taylor Parr     3 Oliver Sprague
4 Jack Bradshaw     4 Mark Burgess
5 Joe De LaSalle     5 Steve Brown
6 Sam Spencer     6 George Nicholas
7 Ross Collins     7 Joakim Ehui
8 Ryan Ingrey (73m)     8 Craig White
9 Craig Hammond     9 Niko Muir
10 Antonio Murray     10 Michael Murray (16m)
11 Luke Robins (78m)     11 Dave Lawrence (71m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Ade Cambridge     12 Ryan Phillips (16m)
14 Carl Edwards     14 James Burgess (71m)
15 Mitchell Bryant (78m)     15 Karl Oliyide
16 Ryan Lockett     16 James Duncan
17 Rob Watson (73m)     17 Simon Huggett
      Referee: Jon Panconi; Assistants: Jon Wynne & Phillip Evans      
  REPORT by Alan Evans      PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods' long winning run only came to an end on their travels to promotion-chasing Royston Town after conceding a late, late equaliser, scored from a harshly-awarded free-kick awarded deep into stoppage-time.

Manager Mark Burgess had seen his preparation for the game disrupted by injuries and illness, especially to goalkeepers with both of the recent occupants of the number one shirt, Tomer Sherman and Jake Knight, ruled out having picked up knocks in games for other clubs over the previous week. It meant a senior debut for 17-year-old ex-QPR academy keeper Danny McNicholas while with Karl Oliyide missing with illness, Dave Lawrence came in for an unfamiliar role on the left flank. Aaron McLeish and Rashaun Raphael were also out, so the Woods went into the game with only two fit substitutes.

Royston also had goalkeeper problem,s with regular custodian George Lawton ruled out after picking up a midweek injury and they called up their own youngster in Zach Binge, another 17-year-old, for his league debut. The home side started well with Ryan Ingrey behind most of their attacking moves but twice in quick succession, ace striker Craig Hammond failed to hit the target  shooting well over and then heading into the side-netting.

But it was Northwood who had the best chance of the half after only nine minutes when Niko Muir was put through on goal. He ignored the supporting Michael Murray only for him to roll his shot wide with just Binge to be beat.

McNicholas made his first save after 12 minutes to deny Luke Robins after Ingrey and Lewis Endacott had worked an opening down the right and then the Woods had another setback as Murray pulled up with a hamstring strain and had to be replaced by Ryan Phillips. It meant Lawrence was switched to a forward role with Phillips taking his place on the left in a more attacking role than the left-back was used to.

The Crows had another opportunity when Ingrey latched onto a Burgess headed clearance and fed Hammond but the big striker again fired well wide. Northwood worked hard to get back into the game with Joakim Ehui getting some joy down the right but they were unable to make much impression in the final third as both sides defended strongly. McNicholas made a good save from Joe Delasalle on 32 minutes after the strong defender had picked up a half-clearance from Oliver Sprague, and he followed up to stop another deflected effort from Robins.
At the other end, Ehui tried his luck from long-range and wasn’t far away, but the best effort on goal came in the final seconds before the break as George Nicholas strode forward and beat Binge with a great strike, only for the ball to come back off the inside of the post and somehow rebound to safety.

It would have been a great time to score but in fact, the Woods were in front within 32 seconds of the restart. Craig White played Ehui in down the right and his chip into the middle was intended for Lawrence but after it dropped over his head, Endacott’s attempt to clear the danger only resulted in an own-goal as he knocked it inside the near post.

Royston hit back strongly and McNicholas saved well from a long-range effort from Taylor Parr while Hammond scooped another effort over the top after a good, sweeping move. After 70 minutes, Lawrence became another hamstring victim and had to be replaced by James Burgess as the Woods used their final available substitute, but it helped bolster the midfield as the Woods looked to hold on to their clean sheet.

Jack Bradshaw volleyed over in the home side’s only effort on goal until they finally did get a breakthrough on 82 minutes. Endacott’s strike was blocked but it ran loose and former Histon and Hibernian striker Antonio Murray, who had won the Golden Boot with Brisbane City in the summer, fired home with McNicholas unable to keep it out.

The Crows would have been hoping to push on for a winner at that stage, but less than a minute later Ehui raced down the right and cut back an exquisite cross which was met by White’s volley that crashed back off the crossbar. Goal poacher Muir was first to the rebound though and he crashed the ball past covering defenders to restore the Woods’ narrow advantage.

So it was an equaliser that the home side were looking for again, and McNicholas made another good stop to deny Parr and although Hammond sliced the rebound wide, he was flagged for offside to spare his blushes. The Woods had defended really well and had a couple of chances to wrap it up in stoppage-time. First Phillips swept a shot over the top after being picked out by another Ehui cross, and then Muir raced through down the right and his attempt to pick out White’s run failed by inches.

Royston countered quickly and in a typical physical battle between Ramil Sheriff and substitute Rob Mason, it was the Northwood defender that was harshly penalised outside the box on the left side and the home side were awarded a free-kick in a very dangerous position. Ross Collins delivered the ball with pace and Delasalle met it with a firm header that the unsighted McNicholas could only push up and into the roof of the net.

That goal, scored in the sixth minute of stoppage-time, was a tough one to take but the match ended seconds later at 2-2 and Northwood’s first drawn match of the season was still a fine result and the beleaguered side showed great spirit throughout.

Mark Burgess will now face a difficult few days as he tries to get enough fit players together for Tuesday night’s Red Insure Southern League Cup game away at Premier Division side Burnham.