NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 5th March 2016   FLEET TOWN FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 2  Fleet Town 1   

S Brown 62, Nicholas 90+2

B White 4

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Ryan Pryce
2 Georges Ehui     2 James Scott (46m)
3 Andy Lomas     3 Josh Harfield
4 Steve Brown ©     4 Liam Gilbert
5 Mark Burgess (75m)     5 Dan Rousell
6 George Nicholas     6 Jack White
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Simba Mlambo ©
8 Bayley Brown (59m)     8 Craig Davis
9 Niko Muir     9 Ben White (75m)
10 Louis Stead     10 Chris Hall (80m)
11 Rob Hastings (80m)     11 Josh Francis
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Myles Stephenson (59m)     12 Brett Stanley (46m)
14 James Budden (75m)     14 Ben Toye
15 Jermaine Heron (80m)     15 Jack French (75m)
16 James Burgess     16 Jack Howard (80m)
17 Alex Nolan     17 Josh Westbrook
      Referee: David Nicholson; Assistants: Philip Morris & Harry Moore      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  




The Woods left it late but a 25-yarder from George Nicholas arrowed into the top corner to complete a come from behind victory and keep Northwood on the fringe of the play-off places. After Wednesday night’s cup exploits at Winchester City, Mark Burgess chose to rest centre-half James Budden’s slight injury knock and play at the back himself, while twin brother James Burgess was also given a break with Bayley Brown coming in to replace him in central midfield.

But Fleet Town have had improved results of late, including wins in each of their last three away games and they started brightly in this game too. In the very first minute Josh Francis got the better of Georges Ehui to whip in a cross which almost picked out top scorer Simba Mlambo. And the visitors didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal. Craig Davis fired in a corner to the near post, Bayley Brown failed to clear the ball and Ben White turned quickly to flick the ball home from close-range.

Northwood tried hard to get a grip on the game but struggled to find a cutting edge in the final third until the 18th minute when Rob Hastings had a shot blocked and Niko Muir then fired the loose ball narrowly over the crossbar. Five minutes later the impressive Liam Gilbert slipped a good ball down the right to give Ben White another half-chance but he blasted a shot over the top and Fleet continued to look the most likely to score as another corner dropped kindly, and Berkley Laurencin had to produce an instinctive save to keep out a close-range header.

The visitors got their full-backs forward well in support of the attack and both James Scott and Josh Harfield had efforts on goal as Fleet pressed again but the Woods finally showed signs of coming to the party just before the break. Steve Brown headed a corner wide at the far post before finding himself still up front to put in a dangerous cross. Joakim Ehui looked favourite for it but a challenge saw the ball run loose and then Hastings hit his shot straight at goalkeeper Ryan Pryce.

Northwood needed to up the tempo in the second half if they were to get back into the game, and after 48 minutes a sweeping move from Louis Stead and Muir led to Joakim Ehui trying his luck from distance but the ball flew over the top. Bayley Brown was picked out in the box shortly afterwards but was unable to get a shot off and was crowded out. Fleet were more reliant on the counter-attack at this stage and a quick break saw Ben White slip in Mlambo but Joakim Ehui had done well to track back and he got in an important touch with Laurencin collecting the ball safely.

Myles Stephenson replaced Bayley Brown and his strong running helped the Woods win a series of corners. Both Steve Brown and Nicholas had efforts blocked with Fleet defenders doing well to keep them out. But their luck failed to hold out and another corner saw Pryce come too far in an attempt to punch clear and Steve Brown beat him to it with a brave header that eluded two defenders on the line. It was the Woods’ skipper’s first goal for over a year and a really important one that got the side back into the game.

Northwood surged forward again through Andy Lomas whose cross was half-cleared but only to Muir who hit a crisp strike that took a deflection and flashed inches wide of the post. From the resulting corner Lomas picked out Steve Brown again, but this time Pryce was behind it and took the ball comfortably. Hastings was next to go close, picking the ball up on the left and cutting in before firing across goal but again the Fleet keeper was equal to it, then a minute later Burgess made an error which presented Francis with an opportunity but the winger sliced his effort well wide.

Fleet were trying to rally and a deep free-kick from Gilbert picked out Mlambo for a header but it lacked the power to beat Laurencin and the final fifteen minutes was all Northwood as they pushed forward in numbers in search of a winner. Nicholas combined with substitute Jermaine Heron to make a dangerous run to the edge of the box and then drilled a shot that flashed wide of the far post. Then a corner was only partially cleared by another Pryce punch to substitute Myles Stephenson, whose shot was always climbing and flew over the top.

Muir was denied by Pryce as the game entered stoppage time and then Heron shot over from close-range. Time was running out but Budden, also on as a substitute, did well to get a cross in from the right and although the ball was half-cleared, Nicholas latched onto it and rifled in a shot that arrowed into the top corner despite Pryce managing to get a hand to it. He couldn’t keep it out and for the second match running the Woods midfielder had managed to win the game for his side, having previously not found the net for six months.

A late corner saw Fleet through goalkeeper Pryce forward but Laurencin grabbed at the ball and made sure that the late goal had earned the Woods all three points and completed a “double” over their Hampshire opponents.

The Woods now need to regroup again for another Tuesday night cup-tie under lights at Northwood Park as Merthyr Town make the long journey for a Red Insure Southern League Cup semi-final. It is bound to be a tough game but this Northwood side are getting good at winning and will be looking to make it through to their second Cup Final this season.