NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 18th August 2015   PETERSFIELD TOWN

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 2  Petersfield Town 1   

Murray 5, Holland 30

Hyde 88

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Chris Haigh     1 Tom Boyle
2 Omar Vassell     2 Lewis Hyde
3 Andy Lomas     3 Sean Wain
4 Mark Burgess     4 Ryan Woodford (75m)
5 Steve Brown © (17m)     5 Dan Sackman
6 George Nicholas     6 Jamie Ford
7 Max Holland (68m)     7 Stuart Green
8 James Burgess     8 Joe Richardson
9 Louis Stead     9 Mike Dixon (58m)
10 Michael Murray (87m)     10 Joe Briggs
11 Rob Hastings     11 Luke Walker
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Liam Baker     12 -
14 Myles Stephenson (87m)     14 Jake Gale (75m)
15 Joakim Ehui (68m)     15 Jordan Neal (58m)
16 Perry Dicker     16 Olly Searle
17 Nick Turner (17m)     17 Jason Silver
      Referee: Chris Felton; Assistants: Oli Dolton & Abiodan Abraham      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  

A fourth successive League victory kept the Woods at the top of the table and made it Northwood’s best start to a season since the London Spartan League title-winning campaign of 1991/92. On that occasion, they notched a win in each of their first five league games so they will be looking to equal that achievement when they play hosts to Aylesbury United on Saturday.

Petersfield Town’s last two seasons have been a meteoric success, promoted from Wessex League’s First Division in 2014 and then Premier Division Champions last season at the first time of asking, losing just two games all season. With their first two matches of the new season having been drawn, their unbeaten league record stretched back some thirty matches to last October. Mark Burgess was forced into one more change to the starting line-up with skipper Steve Brown back after being unavailable at the weekend to replace Jon Munday who was absent for this midweek fixture.

The Woods raced out of the blocks and after just five minutes, Michael Murray was tripped just outside the box and the dead-ball specialist took full advantage by curling a low shot round the wall and inside the post for the opening goal and his fifth in four matches. Rob Hastings, who has been in fine form throughout the winning start to the season, was soon cutting in from the right and he fired in a shot that was well saved at his near post by goalkeeper Tom Boyle.

Four minutes later, the visitors showed that the Woods weren’t going to have things all their way as a good deep cross from the left saw Luke Walker unmarked and he headed goalwards down and on target but young Northwood goalkeeper Chris Haigh is quickly making a name for himself, and got down well to palm the ball wide of the post. From the resulting corner, another header, this time from Joe Richardson, was cleared from six yards. When Brown injured an ankle on 14 minutes in a collision as he went to clear another attack, he was unable to continue which gave Nick Turner his first opportunity for some action this season.

But the Woods were still playing some neat, flowing football on the attack and Louis Stead went close with a long-range effort before the impressive Max Holland cut in from the left to let fly from 25 yards that arrowed into the top corner to give Boyle no chance and put Northwood two goals ahead. The Rams looked a little shell-shocked as the home side continued to enjoy the better of the possession and attacked with a real purpose. Hastings weaved another path through the defence but then shot wide of the near-post while Murray spurned the opportunity for a second goal when slicing his shot wide of the target.

As the half grew towards the end Hastings enjoyed a mazy run from just inside the Petersfield half which ended with a cut-back that Murray volleyed for goal but the ball hit the post and to safety. George Nicholas, enjoying another commanding game in the centre, almost got in the act as well, running into the box and past the ‘keeper but only found the side-netting.

The visitors looked more purposeful after the break and early on another header from a long ball saw Omar Vassell have to clear away. Northwood still looked strong though and Murray saw a good strike take a deflection and the ball could have ended anyway but in fact just cleared the crossbar. Michael Dixon did well with a shot on the turn under pressure which Haigh pushed wide of the post, though the Petersfield striker limped away and was immediately replaced by substitute Jordan Neal. Haigh was soon on action again to keep out a good shot from Joe Briggs.

At the other end Murray tried an audacious chip from around 40 yards after spotting Boyle off his line but again the ball dropped over the bar but the Woods went even closer to adding to their advantage on 73 minutes as Stead caught a shot from distance perfectly only to see it crash back off the underside of the crossbar, hit the goalkeeper and still bounce away to safety. Two minutes later Vassell angled a free-kick across the area with both Turner and Mark Burgess just failing to add the required touch to convert. 

There was a real scare for the Woods on 88 minutes though as they conceded their first goal at Northwood Park this season, with Lewis Hyde finding some space to cut in from the right and he managed to find the top corner with a sweet strike that Haigh was unable to reach.

It proved too late for the Rams to mount any further comeback as the Woods attempted clumsily to wind down the clock, picking up two bookings for time-wasting but they had a great chance to wrap up the points in stoppage-time. Substitute Myles Stephenson had only been on for four minutes when a good ball saw him race through on goal. He beat the oncoming ‘keeper with his shot but it clipped the outside of the near-post and Northwood had to settle for just the narrow one-goal victory.