Monday 3rd January 1977

Northwood had nearly 99 per cent of this Middlesex League game but still had to wait until the 89th minute for Gary Cooper to score the winner that pushes the Woods up into second place in the table.

The match was unbelievable for Northwood’s bad luck. In fact it started before the kick off when full back Harman missed the departure and Robin Tidd had to leave his midfield role to move into the defence.

Northwood tore into the attack from the start and, inspired by overlapping full-backs Tidd and Heslop, they nearly took the lead in the fifth minute. Jones centred front the right, and Martin. Ellis met the ball with a prodigious leap and sent a superb header onto the crossbar.

Five minutes later the Woods took the lead through Ellis, his 18th goal of this season. Ellis won the ball on the left, took on two defenders and then let a fierce shot fly  from fully 30 yards into the roof of the net.

From then on Hinton had some incredible mistakes. Everyone bar Northwood goalkeeper Les Currell joined in the attacks and it was this overzealous approach that brought about the Woods' downfall in the 20th minute. Hinton, in their first serious attack, caught the Woods square at the back, and with Heslop and Gould closing in Brown slipped the ball home past the oncoming Currell.

This setback only served to inspire the Woods more, and Ellis broke through to shoot against the post. It was all Northwood. Corner upon corner was won, Gould had a header cleared off the line and then the goalkeeper made an incredible one handed save, with Ellis and Livingstone in for the kill.

Then a great move really deserved a goal. Cooper sent an inch perfect  60 yard crossfield pass into the path of the inspired Heslop, who unleashed a powerful volley that hammered against the post and rebounded into the bewildered goalkeeper's arms.

The second half was the same old story, with Northwood pressing forward all the time, with Ellis and Ian Harvey both having shots go just wide of the target.

Once again Northwood hit the bar, this time with a Cooper header. Ellis twice broke through and looked like scoring, only to see his efforts fail. Next it was Junior Jones who surged through the midfield, outran the entire Hinton defence, shot wide of the goalkeeper and then saw his shot hit the post.

Heslop made a brilliant run on the right, powered his way past three players, reached the box, beat another defender and had spent himself of energy to make the most of his hard work.

Livingstone had a fine volley saved by the keeper after one of a series of fine runs by the tall striker. There was some brilliant touch football by Cooper, Ellis and Harvey, but the goal simply would not come. With the game approaching the last minute Northwood had struck the woodwork on no fewer than five occasions and had had four efforts cleared off the line.

Emphasizing Northwood's dominance and half-desperation, centre half Merison took the last minute corner, Livingstone rose to head, and yet again struck the bar, but this time Cooper was at hand to nudge the ball goalwards, a defender lunged to clear, but on the spot referee Mr Don adjudged the ball over the line to give Northwood the lead.
The game had hardly restarted before the brilliant Mr. Don blew the final whistle. The Woods had both points – but with reasonable breaks their goal tally could have been improved.

Northwood: L. Currell, R. Tidd, A. Merison, B. Gould, N. Heslop, I. Harvey, D. King, J. Jones, M. Ellis,  G. Cooper. R. Livingstone.