GODALMING TOWN   Saturday 16th April 2016   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central

  Godalming Town 2  Northwood 1  

L Hutton 61, W Hutton 73

Muir 90+4

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Oneal Garnes     1 Berkley Laurencin
2 Charlie Hutton (66m)     2 Alex Nolan
3 Liam Roberts     3 Andy Lomas
4 Louis Hutton     4 Mark Burgess ©
5 Julian Sills     5 James Budden
6 Chris Musgrove     6 Bayley Brown (68m)
7 Steve Laidler     7 Joakim Ehui (62m)
8 Danny Bassett (79m)     8 Louis Stead
9 Graeme Purdy     9 Niko Muir
10 Darren Wheeler (58m)     10 Myles Stephenson
11 Piers Oldland     11 Rob Hastings
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Chris Wales (66m)     12 George Nicholas (68m)
14 Will Hutton (58m)     14 Georges Ehui
15 Iven Kumanda (79m)     15 Max Holland (62m)
16 Rory Sellick     16 Simon Huggett
17 -     17 Jermaine Heron
      Referee: Damith Bandara; Assistants: Peter Meek & Stuart Jack      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  




Manager Mark Burgess continued to cover at the back for injured skipper Steve Brown but any celebrations for making his 200th Northwood appearance were dampened as the home side won a narrow victory thanks to a controversial penalty. The only change made to the side that had won in midweek was with Joakim Ehui preferred to start in place of Max Holland, though Martin Netzer was unavailable as well.

Hard work by the people of Godalming had transformed the pitch from a waterlogged one overnight to a slightly boggy but perfectly playable one for the final Saturday away trip of the season for the Woods but after Niko Muir had fired well wide early on, it was the home side who enjoyed the better of the early exchanges. Darren Wheeler played Liam Roberts down the left and his half-volley flew across goal and not far wide of the far post. Berkley Laurencin was in action on 18 minutes to push a shot round the post before Piers Oldland had an effort from distance that flew miles over.

The home side were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Wheeler curled his shot well but it was wide of the post and into the side-netting. Stead then cleared a header from Danny Bassett but the Woods eventually warmed to the task. On the half-hour good work from Myles Stephenson created an opportunity for Ehui and he flicked an effort goalwards but without the power to bother goalkeeper Oneal Garnes. Ehui then shot with more power but wide after Muir had played him in towards goal.

After 38 minutes Rob Hastings showed a turn of pace as he knocked in a testing cross that Garness failed to collect but there was no-one there to snaffle the loose ball. At the other end, Louis Hutton almost took advantage of Bayley Brown losing possession with a shot that flew wide and then a good run from Oldland set up the same player for another strike with Laurencin needing to get across and push the ball wide. The first-half finished with Andy Lomas getting forward well to receive a good ball from Brown but his sho t was wide and it was still goalless at the break.

But the Woods started the second-half the better. Nolan’s ball found no-one but still tested Garness in goal who went down slowly but still managed to gather the ball safely. Then Ehui played a neat exchange of passes with Louis Stead before crossing and Stephenson’s flick at the near post was blocked and then gathered by the home ‘keeper. Northwood tried to press and from a Stead free-kick, defender Chris Musgrove was well-positioned to clear while Lomas’s corner was knocked back in by Burgess but the loose ball was cleared.

Will Hutton had replaced Wheeler as a substitute and found enough space on the hour to get in a shot which Laurencin claimed comfortably but a minute later came a game-changing decision. It was Louis Hutton who found space for a shot but the ball deflected off the blocking Nolan for a corner. Despite no appeals from anywhere in the ground the referee shocked everyone by pointing to the spot and Louis Hutton gratefully fired home from the penalty.

The decision certainly knocked the stuffing out of the Woods for a while and Laurencin had to make a good save to deny Bassett after good work from Oldland and then George Nicholas was brought on as substitute for Brown with twenty minutes to go. It had no immediate effect, though Stephenson did shoot wide following some good play from Muir but on 75 minutes Will Hutton was put through down the centre and he converted to double the home side’s lead.

Only now did Northwood begin to click again and they should have pulled one back two minutes later as a good sweeping move saw Stead play in Nicholas who somehow missed the target with just the ‘keeper to beat. With their very next attack, substitute Max Holland beat two players on the left before feeding Hastings and his curling strike had Garnes stretching to palm the ball away from the top corner and only inches wide of the post. From the resulting corner Lomas curled the ball in and Stead’s header lacked the power to beat the ‘keeper.

The Woods threw centre-half James Budden up front in their search for a goal and he got a good header back across goal to a Lomas free-kick but the forwards were ball-watching and it was cleared by the home defence. It left Northwood short at the back and a quick break gave Oldland a good chance to wrap it up but Laurencin was out quickly to smother.

Garnes made a good stop at his near-post to keep out Stephenson’s shot after a good ball from Stead and then a Stead corner picked out Budden who was being held as he went for a header that flew wide but the referee failed to spot it. It was well into stoppage-time that Hastings raced into the box and was clipped to give the Woods a penalty. Muir fired home his first goal in thirteen games to reduce the arrears and although it probably secures the Golden Boot for the season, it was too little, too late to save the game.

Northwood remain in eighth place in the league table but now probably need maximum points from their final two games to have a chance of finishing any higher than that, despite both play-off contenders St. Ives and Chalfont St Peter also losing their games at the weekend.