NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 8th March 2014   ROYSTON TOWN FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 3 Royston Town 1   

Nicholas 68, Murray 74, Lawrence 82

Dobson 17

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Nick Thompson
2 James Duncan (90m)     2 Ross Collins
3 Oliver Sprague     3 Jhai Dhillon
4 Mark Burgess     4 Scott Bridges
5 Steve Brown     5 Ryan Wharton
6 Craig White (63m)     6 Jack Bradshaw
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Ryan Ingrey
8 George Nicholas     8 Spyros Mentis (78m)
9 Michael Murray     9 Rob Mason
10 Dave Lawrence     10 Robbie Nightingale (70m)
11 Karl Oliyide     11 Reece Dobson
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Niko Muir (63m)     12 Craig Hammond (78m)
14 Giles Townsend (90m)     14 Ryan Lockett
15 Tommy Walsh     15 Carl Edwards
16 Dan Daggett     16 Adrian Cambridge (70m)
17 -     17 Taylor Parr
      Referee: Chris Bodell; Assistants: Andrew Hickman & Michael Heavey      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods came from behind to defeat ill-disciplined play-off hopefuls Royston Town, who were reduced to ten men before the break. Northwood were missing speedster Jerome Federico and Niko Muir was still nursing an ankle injury so in came Michael Murray up front with Karl Oliyide moving back to a wide role. James Burgess was also still unavailable, so Craig White continued his comeback from injury from the start.

The visitors looked overly aggressive from the start and after Mark Burgess had made a good block to a Rob Mason strike, the Crows picked up bookings in quick succession with Jhai Dhillon and Scott Bridges both seeing yellow for late challenges inside fifteen minutes. But just two minutes later a good ball across from Ryan Ingrey found Reece Dobson in too much space on the left and he cut in to fire a crisp shot across Berkley Laurencin in goal and inside the far post.

Northwood should have hit back almost immediately as Oliyide was put through on goal and though he held off his marker well, he steered his low shot in reach of the diving goalkeeper, Nick Thompson who kept it out. When Oliyide was cynically brought down just outside the box a minute later it gave dead-ball specialist Murray his first opportunity and Thompson did well to get behind his swinging strike and save well.

Dobson remained the main threat for the visitors and Laurencin did well to push the ball away from the danger zone after another run and cross from the wide man, while George Nicholas became the first Northwood name in the book on 23 minutes.

The Woods keeper made a good stop from a long-distance Dhillon effort before Dobson was cautioned for delaying a restart, but the lack of discipline was to prove more costly for Royston before the break. After 37 minutes, Mason was caught out with a sneaky foul on Burgess that would have earned a yellow card but he then followed up with a further indiscretion that had it doubled up to a red and left his side with ten men.

There was no real change up to half-time as neither side made any inroads, but the real work would come at the break as each manager would adjust their tactics in order to get a result.

The Woods were soon getting more possession, with Thompson forced into an early save from Joakim Ehui following a good run and cross and then an Oliver Sprague ball was headed on well by Dave Lawrence against the bar. The rebound fell towards Duncan, who looked to be fouled by Dhillon as he looked to head home but an offside flag came to the Crows’ rescue. Northwood needed to be patient but eventually they began to find space and Oliyide’s jinking run led to him getting ahead of Dhillon inside the box but despite what looked a clear clip of his foot, no penalty was given.

Lawrence shot well wide from distance shortly after and then top scorer Muir replaced White for his first action in several weeks. It added some extra attacking flair for the Woods. Three minutes later another free-kick gave Murray another chance to try his luck and he produced a much better curler than before, but again Thompson was equal to it, flying across goal to push the ball wide. But from the resulting corner, Steve Brown returned the deep centre across goal and Nicholas found the net with a low shot that crept through dummied by Burgess.

The Woods pushed on, and after 74 minutes Muir played a neat ball into the box and Oliyide was bundled over by the diving keeper. A penalty was the clear result and Murray stepped forward to put Northwood in front from twelve yards.

As Royston attempted to rescue something out of the game, they left more space at the back and Muir exploited it again with a good ball to Ehui whose shot flashed just wide of the post, but there was little the Crows could do with Northwood’s third goal. Another free-kick, some 35 yards from goal and Lawrence simply arrowed a thunderous drive into the top corner to give Thompson no chance.

Laurencin had to stay alert to keep out a late effort from Dobson but otherwise the Woods saw the game out comfortably despite picking up a couple of unnecessary late bookings themselves.

The side now move on to away games at Potters Bar Town and Chalfont St Peter in the next week, looking for the points that could yet make them play-off challengers in the last weeks of the season.