NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 5th January 2016   NORTH GREENFORD

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 1  North Greenford 0   

Hastings 17

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Josh Kensit
2 Alex Nolan     2 Samuel Addae
3 Andy Lomas     3 Alfie Cain
4 Steve Brown ©     4 Jessy Yaboue
5 James Budden     5 Danny Bennell
6 George Nicholas (67m)     6 Nick Turner
7 Joakim Ehui (67m)     7 Glen Yala (87m)
8 James Burgess     8 Luke Kandor ©
9 Louis Stead     9 Aaron McLeish
10 Myles Stephenson (40m)     10 Matt Riggs (60m)
11 Rob Hastings     11 Charlie Mitchell (66m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Max Holland (67m)     12 George Moore (60m)
14 Bayley Brown (67m)     14 Sandro Costa (87m)
15 Shane Cojocorel (40m)     15 Kerran Lataille
16 Mark Burgess     16 Seldyn Grant
17 Georges Ehui     17 Charlie Connor (66m)
      Referee: Paul Forrester; Assistants: Neo Neophytou & Stuart Smith      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  




The Woods began the New Year with three more points in a close-fought game with near-neighbours North Greenford and they will be relieved to have held on to the narrow victory after the visitors dominated the second half. After two postponed fixtures in the previous week, Mark Burgess was able to name an unchanged line-up from the one that had defeated Kings Langley on Boxing Day, with Niko Muir still missing from the attack.

The visitors are still a team in transition with after another recent change of management team but have been showing signs of the form they need to take them away from the foot of the table. Their squad included four players who had previously seen service at Northwood, including popular defender Nick Turner, who joined the Blues in December. And it was North Greenford who started brightly and went close after just five minutes as goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin had to be alert to block a shot from Aaron McLeish at close range after a ball in had seen offside claims ignored.

George Nicholas went close with a long-range effort at the other end and then another good cross from the left saw Danny Bennell hook a shot over the bar. But the Woods grabbed the initiative and after 16 minutes Nicholas robbed a defender and set up Myles Stephenson for a shot which goalkeeper Josh Kensit blocked at his near post.

Just a minute later Louis Stead made a fine run from midfield which saw him drift past a couple of defenders and then arrow a shot that looked destined for the top corner until Kensit flew across goal to palm the ball wide of the upright. From the resulting corner, the ball was driven in low and it was Rob Hastings who got the important flick that put Northwood in front. It was Hastings’ first goal since the very first week of the season, when he scored the only goal of the game that earned all three points away at North Greenford!

The Woods continued to hold sway but without really threatening a second goal and it was Matt Riggs who tried his luck from distance on 29 minutes but with a shot that was always going over despite dipping near goal. There was an opportunity for Stead from a free-kick awarded just outside the box three minutes later but he fired straight at the defensive wall. The ball ran loose to Nicholas, and he drove in a shot that Kensit saved well low down.

Northwood were dealt a blow on 40 minutes, though, as Stephenson succumbed to injury and he was replaced by Barnet loanee Shane Cojocarel, with Stead moving to a more central attacking role. And it was the visitors who got back into the game a little towards the end of the half with Glen Yala’s cross being taken well by Laurencin at his near post before a long-range effort from Alfie Cain was comfortably taken by the Woods’ keeper.

The Blues came out for the second half in good heart, and an early pacy run from Yala ended with a powerful strike that flew well over and then a good ball in from the left saw Steve Brown unable to reach a header with the ball being knocked into the goal by McLeish, but it was immediately ruled out for an offside flag. Laurencin then came into his own with a couple of fine saves from Charlie Mitchell and Yala in quick succession as North Greenford looked to press home their dominance with the Woods midfield faltering and the attack looking non-existent.

The misty conditions became murkier and Burgess made substitutions, with Max Holland and Bayley Brown providing fresh legs in place of Joakim Ehui and Nicholas but it failed to change the Woods fortunes in attack. However, the visitors did also run out of ideas as Northwood’s defence held strong with Alex Nolan particularly impressive in repelling any attacks down the left. There was a late penalty appeal for the Blues when McLeish went to ground in the box after 87 minutes but it never looked convincing and a minute later Holland played a neat one-two with Stead before firing wide as the game petered out without any more excitement.

The win means that the Woods have lost just one of their last twelve games but they will need to be more on their game this coming Saturday if they are to extend that run with title-contenders AFC Rushden & Diamonds coming to Northwood Park.