NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 29th March 2014   RUGBY TOWN FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 2  Rugby Town 1   

Sprague 59, Muir 62

Lake-Gaskin 21

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1  Niall Cooper
2 James Duncan     2 Ellis Myles
3 Oliver Sprague     3 Nathan Fox
4 Mark Burgess     4 Richard Wesley (77m)
5 Steve Brown     5 Alex Gudger
6 Craig White     6 Jared Cuniff
7 Dave Lawrence     7 Greg Kazaboni (69m)
8 James Burgess (68m)     8 Richard Blythe
9 Niko Muir     9 David Kolodynski
10 Michael Murray     10 Seb Lake Gaskin
11 Karl Oliyide     11 Justin Marsden
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 George Nicholas (68m)     12 Aron King (69m)
14 Tommy Walsh     14 Luke Bottomer (77m)
15 Giles Townsend     15 Daniel Pritchard
16 David Palmer     16 Craig Read
17 Luke Fox     17 -
      Referee: Richard Kendall Assistants: Dele Sotimirin & John Nazari      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  


League leaders Rugby Town were deal a huge blow in their quest for automatic promotion as the Woods came from behind to secure a narrow victory. With Jerome Federico and Joakim Ehui both unavailable it left Northwood without their usual wide pair, so Karl Oliyide returned to a flank position and the versatile Dave Lawrence tucked in on the right. There was good news, though, in the fact that Niko Muir declared himself recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury to partner Michael Murray up front. George Nicholas was back from suspension but had to settle for a place on the bench alongside four youngsters.

The visitors started really well with an early cross from Seb Lake-Gaskin picking out the unmarked David Kolodynski but the division’s top scorer flicked his shot over the bar from close-range. Two minutes later, Justin Marsden found space on the right but fired into the side-netting as the Woods continued to be stretched at the back.

A rare excursion up the other end saw Murray get his head to a deep corner but he couldn’t find the target and Rugby continued to push forward. Kolodynski had a couple of efforts blocked, the latter by James Duncan but he also hit another effort wide, as did Marsden. But they found their reward on 21 minutes when a long-ball pumped forward had Mark Burgess stretching and he failed to cut it out. Lake-Gaskin had gambled and he ran on to side-step Berkley Laurencin in goal and slide the ball into an empty net.

Northwood responded well to going a goal behind though and after 27 minutes when Oliyide robbed Ellis Myles of the ball out wide and a quick run and cross saw Lawrence inches away from a vital touch. Two minutes later Oliyide cut in from the left and slipped a good ball across to James Burgess, but his strike was always going wide and it was the visitors who finished the half on top again. Kolodynski hit an excellent shot on the turn from the edge of the box but Laurencin was equal to it and saved.

Northwood looked to have been refreshed after the break, though, and when Duncan played a good cross in from the right, it was blocked by a defender’s arm but a corner, not a penalty, was the result. Two minutes later, Muir set up Mark Burgess for a shot which was saved low down by goalkeeper Niall Cooper.

The Woods kept pressing and a good passing move saw Oliyide shoot for goal, but a deflection merely flicked it straight at Cooper who held comfortably. Marsden was booked trying to keep tabs on Oliyide but when the Woods free-kick broke down, a quick break gave Rugby an ideal chance to go further ahead. This time it was Kolodynski who raced through on goal but this time Laurencin had time to react and he timed his dive perfectly to keep his side in the game.

Northwood took full advantage. Lawrence saw an effort fly well over but after 59 minutes Oliver Sprague won the ball on the left, took a couple of strides and then let fly from all of 35 yards with a shot that soared over Cooper and into the top corner. Before the visitors could react, just three minutes later, Lawrence held the ball up in midfield just enough to slip an excellent pass through to Muir who lifted a shot first time over Cooper to give the Woods a 2-1 lead. It was his first goal since first returning from the injury he picked up five weeks earlier.

The Woods looked to increase their lead further with Oliyide’s return of a Murray free-kick being cut out low down by Cooper who just held on with Steve Brown waiting to pounce. Nicholas replace James Burgess to give them some fresh legs in midfield and Rugby replaced Greg Kazaboni with Aron King but it was still Northwood who dominated with Oliyide continuing to cause problems on the left. One effort was blocked while another cut back to Muir produced a firm shot that was well saved by Cooper.

Only in the final ten minutes did the visitors finally rally in an effort to salvage a point. Substitute Luke Bottomer’s centre was met by Lake-Gaskin who could only head the ball well wide of the target, while a late strike from distance by Lake-Gaskin was straight at Laurencin who held on securely to ensure the victory for Northwood.

With just one defeat in eight games, this win lifted the Woods into sixth place in the table but any thoughts of a play-off place are still reliant on more than one of their rivals having a particularly bad run with the games in hand that most have.