RUGBY TOWN FC   Saturday 30th November 2013   NORTHWOOD FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Rugby Town 4  Northwood 2  

Gaskin 22, Kolodynski 25,
Piggon 38, 80 

Lawrence 6, Muir 60 

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Niall Cooper     1 Rob Blackburne
2 Ellis Myers     2 Ramil Sheriff
3 Josh O'Grady     3 Oliver Sprague
4 Mason Rowley     4 Mark Burgess
5 Alex Gudger     5 Steve Brown
6 Richard Blythe     6 James Burgess
7 Greg Kazaboni     7 Joakim Ehui
8 Sam Belcher (35m)     8 Craig White
9 David Kolodynski     9 Niko Muir
10 Seb Lake-Gaskin     10 Dave Lawrence (81m)
11 Justin Marsden     11 Karl Oliyide
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Mitchell Piggon (35m)     12 Alex Nolan
14 Steve Palmer     14 George Nicholas
15 Jamel Wilson     15 Jake Knight
16 Craig Kelly     16 James Duncan
17 -     17 Aaron McLeish (81m)
      Referee: Neil Pratt; Assistants: Chris Goode & Mark Wardell      
  REPORT by Alan Evans        PHOTOS by Martin Pulley  

In the battle of two in-form teams, the Woods succumbed to title-challengers Rugby Town but can take full credit for playing their part in a closely-fought, highly entertaining contest. The home side had won eight of their last nine games, including their last four at home, while the Woods were unbeaten in eight matches with their last defeat way back in late September when they crashed at Kettering Town.

Mark Burgess made just one change, with Ramil Sheriff returning at right-back to replace James Duncan, while the home side had key midfielder Lewis McBride ruled out along with left-back Craig Kelly.

It was Northwood who made the early running and they should have led inside the first 30 seconds. Karl Oliyide outpaced the Rugby defence down the left and chipped across to find Joakim Ehui. A difficult bounce saw Ehui choose to ignore shooting and knock it square to Dave Lawrence who fired his shot into the ground but it bounced too high and crashed against the crossbar.

At the other end, goalkeeper Rob Blackburne made a comfortable save from Seb Lake-Gaskin but after six minutes, the Woods’ early pressure paid off as they took the lead. Steve Brown headed a corner towards goal and Lawrence was neatly placed to flick his header into the top corner.

For the next fifteen minutes, Northwood continued to cause problems for the home side as some excellent passing and movement stretched the Rugby defence, forcing a series of corners. Brown had another more direct header saved by goalkeeper Niall Cooper and soon after Lawrence was put through again but as he attempted to square the ball to two unmarked team-mates, a last-ditch tackle saved the day for the Valley. At this stage Rugby would have been wondering how they were going to a foothold in the game, but after 20 minutes a quick break saw David Kolodynski speed down the left and find Lake-Gaskin in space but his effort was well saved by Blackburne.

Just two minutes later, Sam Belcher played a ball to Lake-Gaskin on the edge of the box and he turned and hit a hopeful, low shot that caught out the Woods keeper, who was late down to it and the ball crept under him and inside the post.

Now level, the Valley raised their game with Kolodynski getting more joy down the left. He set up Lake-Gaskin again but his shot was deflected over the bar. But, from the short corner, Belcher angled a ball in towards the near post and Kolodynski beat Blackburne to it to flick a header past him and suddenly, with two goals in four minutes, Rugby were ahead.

The home side had clearly unsettled Northwood, and a fierce ball in from Josh O’Grady was well saved by Blackburn with the ever-dangerous Kolodynski looking to pounce on any mistake. Rugby lost the influential Belcher to a knee injury after 35 minutes, being replaced by former Bedworth United striker Mitchell Piggon who went up front, with Lake-Gaskin moving to a wide position.

Just three minutes later a simple ball into the box from Greg Kaziboni saw Lake-Gaskin shoot for goal and although Blackburne kept it out, it was Piggon who reacted quickest to knock in the loose ball with his first touch. Blackburne kept the Woods in the contest just before the break with a good save to deny Kolodynski, but they remained two goals behind at half-time.

Rugby could have ended it early in the second half as a poor clearing header from Oliver Sprague was chipped back in by Kolodynski and Piggon headed over the top. But the Woods are made of sterner stuff nowadays, and after 51 minutes a good run and cross from Ehui picked out Niko Muir unmarked. He should have hit the target but miscued his header and the danger was cleared. Soon after that, a Lawrence free-kick picked out Mark Burgess at the far post but he headed the ball wide.

Northwood continued to probe though and when Muir chased down a good ball into the box but out wide; Cooper came out and took him down with a mistimed challenge. A yellow card and a penalty was the correct decision and Muir calmly bagged his seventeenth goal of the season from the spot. Having come back from two goals down at Egham on Tuesday night, the Woods could draw on that experience as they looked for another goal in this fixture and Lawrence tried his luck from 25-yards with a shot that dipped and only just cleared the bar.

The Valley tried to hit back with a hopeful effort from Kaziboni also dropping, but this time onto the bar and then bouncing into Blackburne’s grateful arms. The Woods drove forward again as they searched for an equaliser. Lawrence raced onto a through ball but swept his shot wide of the post, and then good work from Sprague led to a dangerous cross with Cooper claiming it under pressure from Muir.

After 78 minutes Lawrence headed an Ehui cross into the danger-zone but the ball was scrambled away and two minutes later Rugby made the game safe. It was Lake-Gaskin who caused the damage with a terrific run down the left which saw him leave two defenders trailing. He cut in and then chipped a neat ball across for the unmarked Piggon head home from close-range.

Aaron McLeish was introduced as fresh legs in place of Lawrence, and Brown was pushed into a forward role but they were unable to get into the game as Rugby held on comfortably this time and Kolodynski was denied a second late in the game as Blackburne made a fine save.