NORTH GREENFORD   Tuesday 11th August 2015   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  North Greenford 0  Northwood 1    



Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Ricardo Diniz (54m)     1 Chris Haigh
2 Suleimane Djalo     2 Omar Vassell
3 Fasie Catalin     3 Andy Lomas
4 Yannis Ambroisine ©     4 Jon Munday
5 Ahmed Mohammed     5 Steve Brown ©
6 Orlando Rodrigues (81m)     6 George Nicholas
7 Charlie Mitchell     7 Liam Baker (61m)
8 Tariq Humaid     8 James Burgess
9 Lal Bulu     9 Louis Stead (83m)
10 George Moore     10 Michael Murray (85m)
11 Sandro Costa     11 Rob Hastings
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Anton Robinson     12 Max Holland (61m)
14 Andrew Manitou     14 Myles Stephenson (85m)
15 Josh Brown (81m)     15 Perry Dicker (83m)
16 David Florescu     16 Mark Burgess
17 Cristian Pal (54m)     17 Nick Turner
      Referee: Ryan Atkin; Assistants: Michael Smith & Ben Weldon      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  



The Woods went to near-neighbours North Greenford United on Tuesday night and a narrow 1-0 success earned them maximum points for the second time in four days and their best start to a campaign since 2008. Manager Mark Burgess kept an unchanged starting-line up for the short trip following Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing of Arlesey Town, with the only changes coming on the bench as he named himself alongside Nick Turner in place of Jordan Payne and David Moran.

North Greenford had been reprieved from relegation in the summer after a late surge in form had lifted them above AFC Hayes and they had started the new season well with a point at Bedford Town. But the Woods started the match with plenty of confidence behind them and they were soon dominant, knocking the ball around neatly on the zippy surface after some recent rain.

Rob Hastings saw a lot of the ball in the early stages and notched the first effort on goal when he angled a first-time shot towards the near-post but alert goalkeeper Ricardo Diniz reacted quickly to push the ball wide of the post. After nine minutes Andy Lomas slipped a neat ball wide to Hastings who whipped in a dangerous cross but no-one was quite able to get a touch.

Four minutes later a low strike from George Nicholas flashed wide of the target and then Michael Murray floated in an excellent free-kick which Steve Brown looked likely to touch past Diniz but he failed to connect and the ‘keeper punched it away. The ball fell to James Burgess but his shot was always going wide.

The pressure continued with Omar Vassell getting forward to put in a cross and Louis Stead placed his header well but Diniz was down to push the ball wide of the post. From the resulting corner, the ball ricocheted around until Vassell got a shot on goal but it went wide of the target.  

The Woods were still looking strong and being patient with their approach and they were almost rewarded on 25 minutes as Stead played Nicholas into space, and he let fly with a great strike that just missed the top corner. Another bit of a slalom run from Nicholas saw him get forward well and then cut the ball for Hastings but the ball cannoned off his shin and went wide once again.

North Greenford had hardly had a look in after half an hour, but they did start to settle more and after 35 minutes Sandro Costa managed to get forward, cutting in from the left and produced a firm strike that Woods goalkeeper Chris Haigh had to get across to and push it away. They also had a shout for a penalty when Jon Munday lent across Tariq Humaid with his arm but neither the Referee nor his assistant were convinced. A few minutes later the home side were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous place and a low strike saw Haigh block and a shot from the rebound was also deflected over the top.

There was still more to come before the end of a pulsating first half. Liam Baker played Lomas down the left and his pinpoint cross picked out Jon Munday who looked to have beaten Diniz with a firm header before the ‘keeper again reacted well to palm it wide. Having not managed to get the goal their first-half performance had deserved, the Woods had to maintain their tempo after the break and again they started brightly with Lomas hitting a long-range effort straight at the ‘keeper.

Stead then tried his luck with another shot from distance and this time it was dipping in before Diniz showed good agility to push it over the bar. But the important goal finally came on 53 minutes as Nicholas combined with Lomas to knock in a deep cross from the left and Hastings raced in to squeeze a header inside the near post. Diniz, who had already needed treatment having slipped and fallen awkwardly a couple of times, had gone down again in his effort to save the header and he was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Cristian Pal.

Having finally gone a goal behind, the Blues began to raise their game with a free-kick being blocked by Hastings and the loose ball had to be scrambled away by Vassell. At the other end Murray had a shot blocked before, as on Saturday, Max Holland replaced Baker on the hour. The Woods dropped a little deeper and had to defend doggedly to stop the pacy North Greenford side from getting too near goal. A good tackle from Lomas saw the ball played to Ahmed Mohammed who tried a lob from 25 yards but the ball dropped the wrong side of the crossbar.

It was after 78 minutes that the home side came closest to notching an equaliser with George Moore knocking in a good free-kick and Humaid flicked on a header from close-range that looked destined for the net until Haigh produced a fine reflex save to push the ball over the top.

The Woods had to be content with just the odd counter-attack. Stead had another long-range strike saved by Pal before being replaced by Perry Dicker in the closing stages and another substitute, Myles Stephenson could have wrapped things up as he broke through on goal but his touch let him down. For North Greenford, the dangerous Moore worked some space for himself to hit a well-struck shot but it was always going wide and more resolute defending from the Woods, with Vassell probably shading man-of-the-match as they secured all three points.