NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 31st October 2015   BEDFORD TOWN FC

FA Trophy First Qualifying Round

  Northwood 1  Bedford Town 3  

Muir 87

Diop 35, 90+2,
Yafai 55

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Tyler Reading
2 Omar Vassell     2 Kyle McNulty
3 Andy Lomas     3 Kyle Lincoln
4 Jon Munday (46m)     4 Tommy Hull ©
5 Mark Burgess     5 James Peters
6 Bayley Brown (64m)     6 Josh Bamford
7 Rob Hastings (72m)     7 Javia Roberts
8 James Burgess ©     8 Solomon Sambou
9 Niko Muir     9 Serigne Mor Diop
10 Louis Stead     10 Bilal Yafai
11 Max Holland     11 Dylan Gittens (79m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Michael Murray (46m)     12 Nat Lewars
14 George Nicholas (64m)     14 Stefan Powell (79m)
15 Joakim Ehui (72m)     15 Marcus Campbell
16 Alex Nolan     16 Zaki Oualah
17 Jermaine Heron     17 -
      Referee: Chris Kidd; Assistants: Thomas Kelly & Robert Holt      
  REPORT by Alan Evans   PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods made their exit from the FA Trophy with this disappointing performance against a new-look Bedford Town side that repeated their League win at Northwood Park a fortnight earlier. Mark Burgess made just one change from the side that had beaten Potters Bar in midweek with Bayley Brown restored to the midfield in place of Michael Murray with Louis Stead playing less of an attacking role. Skipper Steve Brown continues to be ruled out with his ankle problem.

Bedford paraded another couple of experienced new signings in well-travelled striker Mo Diop and former Fulham youth midfielder Solomon Sambou as new manager John Taylor continues to build a strong squad. But there was a very slow and cagey start to the game with very little attacking action in the opening twenty minutes. Bedford had enjoyed more possession but the Woods’ defensive line held strong and it was at the other end that the first real shot at goal arrived when Stead chipped a shot over the top from 25 yards.

After 25 minutes, Stead got his first chance from a free-kick, having scored from a couple at Leighton a week earlier, but his effort was blocked by the defensive wall. Finally, the Eagles began to make some inroads down the flanks as Javia Roberts got the better of Andy Lomas down the right. His cross was half-blocked but still found Diop but his poked shot merely trickled through to Berkley Laurencin in goal.

Back at the other end, Niko Muir found space for a shot that took a deflection and spun well wide for a corner that came to nothing but then Bedford got their noses in front with the all-important first goal. Roberts had gone close with a header that Laurencin had stretched to reach high and then Roberts burst past Jon Munday on the flank before cutting in and shooting for goal. The Woods ‘keeper got down to make a good save but he couldn’t hold it and Diop was well-placed to tap home the loose ball from a few yards after 35 minutes.

Five minutes later the Woods were almost level as a corner saw Bedford skipper Tommy Hull misdirect an attempted clearance and it led to a scramble with Brown unable to react quickly enough and then Omar Vassell firing a shot against the post. Another corner saw Mark Burgess meet the ball at the far post with a header that had goalkeeper Tyler Reading down to push it away at his near post.

The Woods had a blow at half-time as Munday succumbed to a groin strain, so James Burgess dropped back into defence and Murray joined the fray for the start of the second half. He was soon involved, touching a corner off to Stead who fired over the top. Murray was the choice for the next free-kick awarded 30 yards from goal but he also couldn’t get past the defensive wall but when the rebound fell to Stead he slipped in Vassell for a great chance until he failed to control the ball and it was wasted.

But Northwood had a further setback after 54 minutes as Diop got past Mark Burgess on the left and then cut inside past the covering James Burgess. It was Mark Burgess who was trying to get back into position but in doing so he clipped the Bedford striker who went down for a spot-kick. Bilal Yafai despatched the penalty well to double the Eagles lead.  Laurencin had to save another effort from Diop a minute later but then the Woods started to press. Vassell’s run and cross saw Hull concede a corner and from that, drilled by Murray, Burgess headed just a few inches over the top.

The Woods started to take risks defensively in an effort to get back into the game and Mark Burgess had to make a good sliding block to a shot from Roberts before George Nicholas replaced Brown following his recent injury. Joakim Ehui was also introduced for an out-of-form Rob Hastings and with Bedford back in numbers, Northwood dominated the final twenty minutes. Ehui raced into the box but then chose to cross rather than shoot and that was cut out by James Peters and Reading claimed it. Muir then got in amongst defenders and was unable to get the needed lift to his shot from ten yards.

On 75 minutes Stead’s hopeful strike from distance flew well wide and then another run from Ehui saw him get past his marker and cut the ball back to Muir but his shot was well saved by Reading. There was always a possibility of the Eagles grabbing a goal on a counter-attack and they went close on 83 minutes when Diop supplied an unmarked Josh Bamford but Laurencin did well to narrow the angle and then save his shot.

Back came the Woods again with time running out but Muir fired well over and then Murray shot straight at Reading after good approach work involving Nicholas, Muir and Max Holland. Finally, Northwood did pull a goal back on 87 minutes as Vassell’s strong ball-winning tackle shot towards the box and Muir did well to turn and find space to shoot inside the post.

But it wasn’t enough and the side couldn’t find another way past the packed Eagles defence. Then two minutes into stoppage-time, a long-ball put an offside-looking Diop away down the right and he nonchalantly knocked it past the onrushing Laurencin before running on to tap the loose ball into the empty net. Andy Lomas curled a late effort just wide of a post but there was no chance of a comeback after the late goal from the visitors and the Woods Trophy exploits are all over for another year.