NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 12th March 2016   EGHAM TOWN FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 0  Egham Town 2   

Debattista 61, Pashaj 73

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Jamie Norris
2 Georges Ehui (78m)     2 Ryan Parsons
3 Andy Lomas     3 Mitch Goodridge
4 Steve Brown ©     4 Reece Yorke
5 James Budden     5 Luke Neville ©
6 George Nicholas (28m)     6 Kurtney Brooks
7 Joakim Ehui (85m)     7 Callum Webb (68m)
8 James Burgess     8 Wes Daly
9 Niko Muir     9 Brendan Matthew (75m)
10 Louis Stead     10 Ollie Jones (58m)
11 Rob Hastings     11 Bajram Pashaj
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Myles Stephenson (28m)     12 Ryan Phillips (75m)
14 Bayley Brown     14 Jake Cass (68m)
15 Jermaine Heron (85m)     15 Ryan Debattista (58m)
16 Alex Nolan (78m)     16 Chris Moore
17 Mark Burgess     17 Elliott Carey
      Referee: Lee Marshallsay; Assistants: Andrew Herb & Jack Ohene      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  



It was Egham who strengthened their grip on the play-off places as well as their title-challenge after the Woods self-destructed early in the second-half of this top of the table clash with two red-cards inside six game-defining minutes. Mark Burgess kept faith with the starting line-up that had gone so close to reaching the Red Insure Cup final in midweek against an Egham side managed by former Northwood manager Gary Meakin whose fortunes have been turned around since taking over the reins in September 2015.

The visitors made the early-running with Basham Pashaj getting the better of Georges Ehui before curling a shot across goal and not far wide of the far post after just two minutes. But the Woods pushed forward too and after Rob Hastings had failed to get any power into one effort on goal, Niko Muir was fouled as he burst through to play a ball over the George Nicholas. Advantage was played but Nicholas hit a poor shot and the chance was gone.

A sweeping quick break down involving some neat passing led to Muir knocking in a good cross which seemed destined for Hastings to shoot home before Luke Neville slid in to intercept at the expense of a corner. From that, Steve Brown was clearly shoved as he went to meet it but penalty claims were waved away as Egham broke quickly. The ball was played forward for Brendan Matthew but the Egham top scorer was denied by a superbly-timed tackle from Georges Ehui.

After 23 minutes a half-cleared free-kick fell to Hastings just outside the box but his hooked effort flew well wide and then Egham almost took the lead two minutes later. A defensive clearance was blocked and the rebound flew across goal. Brown was unable to clear and the ball fell to former Woods defender Reece Yorke who drove a shot across goal that was well saved by Berkley Laurencin and then cleared away. The Woods then suffered a setback as Nicholas picked up an injury and had to limp off. Myles Stephenson was brought on up front, with Muir chosen to drop back into the midfield area.

Ollie Jones saw a deflected shot comfortably saved by Laurencin soon after but the Woods continued to threaten and when Brown spread a good ball out wide that got Joakim Ehui racing down the flank, he sent over an excellent cross but there was no-one there to get the required touch. After 40 minutes Hastings did well on the left, cutting in and hitting the target with a powerful drive but Egham goalkeeper Jamie Norris was equal to it, tipping the ball over the bar. Norris was in action again before the break, this time saving a James Budden header after a free-kick from Andy Lomas.

So very much all to play for at the start of the second half, but that was all to change in the opening fifteen minutes after the restart. Louis Stead picked up a bit of harsh yellow card on 50 minutes for clipping Jones in the centre circle before then making a rash challenge out wide on Wes Daly eight minutes that led to an inevitable second caution and the Woods were down to ten men.

Ryan Debattista, who had scored against the Woods as a substitute for three different clubs in recent times, has been introduced just a minute earlier. The resulting free-kick was played in and it was Debattista who drove the loose ball goalwards and it ended up in the back of the net via not one but two deflections. It was a huge blow but any chance of recovery was then blown just five minutes later when James Burgess mistimed a vigorous challenge on Pashaj and was shown a straight red card to leave Northwood behind and down to nine men.

Strangely enough, the Woods should have levelled on 70 minutes as a well-flighted free-kick picked out an unmarked Brown stealing in but his downward header was just kept out by Norris who pushed it out and recovered the loose ball. But a second goal from Egham on 73 minutes pretty much killed the game. Georges Ehui lost the ball out wide and a quick pass found Pashaj in space and he blasted a shot into the top corner.

Still Northwood rallied, throwing Brown up front to cause a few problems and after Muir had fired too high from distance, Stephenson worked some space for a shot but was caught by Mitch Goodridge just outside the box as he went for goal. Lomas tried his luck from the free-kick but it was always looking just too high. Egham surprisingly failed to threaten another goal, apart from one wild blast over the top by substitute Jake Cass but the game had long since been won and the side with the division’s best defensive record kept another clean sheet as well as being grateful for the gifted three points.

Northwood now go back on the road with four games in the next two weeks. Their long unbeaten away record that stretches back to the end of September will be sorely tested at title or play-off hopefuls St Ives Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds but just as tough will be a long midweek away trip to Petersfield Town and, this Tuesday night, a local derby fixture at Hanwell Town.