NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 5th September 2015   BARTON ROVERS FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 2  Barton Rovers 2   

Holland 1, Stead 43

Condon 38, Dias 49

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Kyle Forster
2 Omar Vassell     2 James Bishop
3 Andy Lomas     3 Lucas Perry
4 Nick Turner     4 Alex Condon
5 Steve Brown ©     5 Paul Andrews ©
6 George Nicholas     6 Claudio Dias (69m)
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Jordan Davis (82m)
8 James Burgess     8 Kev Kilroy
9 Louis Stead     9 Jason Blackett
10 Michael Murray (78m)     10 Ryan Da Silva (78m)
11 Max Holland (64m)     11 Elliot Bailey
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Liam Baker     12 Sam Holmes (78m)
14 Myles Stephenson (78m)     14 Jack Keating
15 Jon Munday     15 Joe Reynolds (69m)
16 Perry Dicker     16 Mahmut Caglar
17 Rob Hastings (64m)     17 Arafat Kavuye (82m)
      Referee: Wayne Bright; Assistants: Daniel Glazewski & Thomas Burt      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods failed to beat Barton Rovers in four meetings last season and it seems the Bedfordshire side continue to hold the Indian sign over Northwood as Rovers held on to claim a point in this highly-entertaining game for the neutrals. The management of Mark Burgess and Simon Huggett were back in charge after their week away and James Burgess was restored to midfield while there was also a welcome return between the sticks for triple Player of the Year winner Berkley Laurencin who recovered from injury to make his first start of the season. Max Holland was also restored to the starting line-up in place of Rob Hastings.

And it was Holland who gave the Woods a superb start to the game with a goal after just 44 seconds. A long diagonal ball from Nick Turner found Holland wide on the left and he cut across his marker before driving a great shot into the top corner to give goalkeeper Kyle Forster no chance.

Barton had a chance to level on five minutes when Jordan Davis used his pace to get past Turner and his cut-back found Claudio Dias but the ball rebounded straight at Laurencin who gathered comfortably. After this the Woods dominated for much of the first-half, knocking the ball around with confidence. Louis Stead played an excellent ball into the box that Joakim Ehui was just unable to reach and then another good cross from Holland picked out Michael Murray but his effort was deflected wide.

Two minutes later Murray turned provider with a pass through to Holland who was clipped by Paul Andrews just on the edge of the area. Andrews was booked, Murray took the free-kick and curled the ball around the wall but Forster got across well and was able to push it out. On 25 minutes, a series of passing and great movement led to Andy Lomas getting forward to cut a ball back to Holland and his poked shot looked destined for the far corner but came back off the post.

Ehui struck a shot wide from distance before the Blues rallied with Jason Blackett testing Laurencin with a strike that was saved comfortably. But all of Northwood’s prominence had not resulted in further goals and Barton looked for a way back before the break. A run from Elliott Bailey saw him get the run of the ball in a couple of ricochets and he went for goal with a good strike that Laurencin had to tip over just to be sure. From the resulting corner, Alex Condon got a firm header back across goal and although Ehui appeared to have hacked the ball off the line, an eagle-eyed assistant referee somewhat half-heartedly decided that a goal had been scored and Rovers were suddenly level.

The Woods were stung into action again and just five minutes later Stead netted his first goal for the club when hitting a rasping drive from 25 yards that flew into the bottom corner for another classy goal. Barton went close before the break though as Davis drove a shot just over the top after Kevin Kilroy’s free-kick had been blocked.
Stead almost repeated his feat three minutes into the second-half as he let fly with another fine strike but this time Forster just managed to stretch and deflect the ball wide for a corner. Yet, just a minute later Rovers were level again and this time Dias latched onto a loose ball from Burgess and went for goal with a super strike from distance that flew into the top corner to leave Laurencin stranded.

The Woods felt they should have had a penalty on 54 minutes when Steve Brown appeared to be pushed in the area as he went to head a free-kick that had been won by the tricky Holland once again but the match officials were not so eagle-eyed on this occasion. The visitors held the advantage in the aerial battles and a long free-kick was knocked down into the path of Ryan Da Silva but his shot lacked power.

Then Northwood were back on the front foot as they went looking to take the lead for a third time. Holland was fed by another good ball from Stead and he did well to beat his marker and play in Murray but his well-struck shot flew wide of the upright. Hastings was introduced for fresh legs, replacing the impressive Holland, and he was soon in the thick of the action. Murray flicked a clever pass that saw Hastings through on goal but his shot was deflected by a tackle and Forster was down to save at his near post.

While the Woods were pushing forward, Rovers were clearly capable of countering and a testing cross from Davis saw Bailey meet it with a downward header but Laurencin took it comfortably. Then it was quickly back up the other end as another fine ball from Murray put Hastings through again. This time his shot beat the ‘keeper but it wasn’t accurate enough as the ball took a slight deflection and clipped the post. From the corner that followed, Brown met Murray’s ball with a volley from the edge of the area but it flew wide of the goal.

The pressure continued with Stead and George Nicholas combining to set up Brown again but this time his shot flew just over the bar and then another corner was punched out by Forster only for Murray to cross and Omar Vassell poked his effort wide from close-range. Time was beginning to tick on, with Nicholas’ strike not having the power to beat Forster on 79 minutes but four minutes later a great move saw Brown, Hastings and then Nicholas put Ehui in on goal but his strike once again flew just wide of the post.

The Woods really should have been ahead on 86 minutes when Nicholas slipped a ball through for Ehui again. His strike was saved by Forster but it ran loose and Brown could have scored before choosing to knock it to substitute Stephenson who should have finished but saw his shot blocked for a corner.

In the final minute of normal time Brown headed down from a free-kick and Stephenson shot well wide before Barton had their one opportunity to steal all three points. Substitute Arafat Kavuye did well on the right and let fly with a good shot that had Laurencin beaten but Turner somehow managed to stretch and flick a headed clearance away to safety.

That could have been it but Northwood kept pushing for another couple of minutes of time added on. A long ball gave Ehui something to chase and his outstretched foot did beat the oncoming Forster to flick it goalwards but the ball bounced agonisingly onto the crossbar and over. Then, a similar ball, gave Hastings a snapshot at goal and though he reached it the ball flew wide of the post and the Woods just couldn’t quite find the winner they had deserved.

The squad has a week’s rest now before the big Emirates FA Cup clash next Saturday with near-neighbours Harrow Borough who lost their unbeaten Ryman Premier record at the weekend when going down 1-3 to Kingstonian.