BEDFORD TOWN   Saturday 27th February 2016   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central

  Bedford Town 1  Northwood 2   

Hilaire 3

Stead 22, Hastings 44

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Ashley Harris     1 Berkley Laurencin
2 Stuart Muldrew     2 Georges Ehui
3 Lee Hawkes     3 Andy Lomas
4 James Peters     4 Steve Brown ©
5 Oliver Peters     5 James Budden
6 Kyal McNulty ©     6 George Nicholas
7 Marcus Campbell     7 Joakim Ehui (85m)
8 Ben Farrell     8 James Burgess
9 Josh Beech     9 Niko Muir
10 Afolabi Obafemi     10 Louis Stead
11 Nathan Hilaire     11 Rob Hastings (74m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 James Hillsdon (85m)     12 Max Holland (74m)(90m)
14 Mahmut Caglar (72m)     14 Alex Nolan
15 Chris Cordara-Soanes     15 Mark Burgess
16 Devante Stanley (79m)     16 Bayley Brown (90m)
17 Taishan Griffith     17 Jermaine Heron (85m)
      Referee: Andrew Humphries; Assistants: Orville Bentley & G Connell      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  




It’s now twelve matches and five months since the Woods tasted defeat on their travels after this narrow victory at Bedford Town that also avenged two defeats suffered at home to their opponents back in November; one League and one that saw them exit the FA Trophy. Captain Steve Brown was rebuilt again to take his place in defence with manager Mark Burgess dropping to the bench, but it was an otherwise unchanged starting line-up following the midweek cup-tie victory over Staines Town.

Bedford had struggled for consistency since those wins at Northwood Park and fielded their seventh different goalkeeper of the season in one-time Northwood custodian Ashley Harris, who had joined the Eagles from Haringey Borough. But Northwood didn’t have things all their own way and the home side were in front in less than three minutes. A ball slipped down the right channel led to a cross whipped in and Nathan Hilaire stole in round the back to convert from a few yards.

It made a change to be playing a game without adverse weather conditions and the Woods tried hard to get back into the game quickly and it progressed evenly with end-to-end play but without any decisive efforts on goal. Northwood finally created a chance after 16 minutes when a good ball put George Nicholas through on goal and although he tapped a shot past Harris, it lacked the power to make it to the goal and was cleared comfortably.

A minute later a quick break saw Bedford’s Josh Beech spread the ball wide to Hilaire and when his cross came in, Beech stretched but was just unable to get his head to the ball. The Woods were beginning to get more of a hold in midfield though and a sweeping move saw Joakim Ehui and James Burgess combine with Nicholas to set up Ehui for a shot which flew well over.

But after 22 minutes, Northwood forced a corner and when Andy Lomas swung it in, Louis Stead rose unmarked to flick a header into the top corner for a fine equaliser. On the half-hour, Stead had another effort kept out and Niko Muir’s follow-up was similarly blocked but Northwood continued to press and they got their reward just before the half-time break. Muir was the provider, working space on the right before getting in a cross that saw Rob Hastings hook a shot that left Harris flat-footed and crept just inside the post.

After a competitive first half, it was quite a surprise that there was such a slow start to the second period as the Woods sat back a little and allowed the Eagles to attempt to find a way through. Although the home side worked hard, they found little joy against some solid defending from a determined Northwood back-line and Berkley Laurencin had little to do than organise those in front of him.

The Woods just relied on counter-attacks and Nicholas enjoyed a surging run before shooting well over and then Brown headed wide from another Lomas corner. Time was running out for the home side. Beech shot well over after trying a first-time shot from a Hilaire cross and then Northwood almost wrapped it up when Muir slipped substitute Jermaine Heron through on goal. His shot was pushed away by Harris and then the ‘keeper recovered well to also keep out Muir’s follow-up effort.

There was a blow as Max Holland, only on as a substitute for fifteen minutes, was then substituted himself with a recurrence of his hamstring strain, which looks set to rule him out of another couple of weeks.

In stoppage-time, Beech continued to work hard up front for Bedford and finally got a shot on target for the home side with an overhead-kick that Laurencin grabbed comfortably to make sure that all three points were safe.

The win takes Northwood up to sixth in the table and once again in touching distance of the much-sought after play-off places. They are back in cup action once again in midweek, when their long-unbeaten away record will be really tested with a long journey to Winchester City in the Red Insure Southern League Cup. There is a home semi-final against Merthyr Town up for grabs for the winners of the tie and the free-scoring Hampshire side will be a real tough nut to crack.