ROYSTON TOWN FC   Saturday 15th August 2015   NORTHWOOD FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Royston Town 1  Northwood 2    

Robins 42

Nicholas 46, Murray 54

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Ron Yates     1 Chris Haigh
2 Gus Scott-Morriss (60m)     2 Omar Vassell
3 Daniel Braithwaite (60m)     3 Andy Lomas
4 Stuart Bridges     4 Jon Munday
5 Liam McDevitt ©     5 Mark Burgess
6 Jack Bradshaw     6 George Nicholas
7 Rhys Hoeness     7 Max Holland (69m)
8 Ryan Towner     8 James Burgess ©
9 Ryan Ingrey     9 Louis Stead (86m)
10 Chris Watters     10 Michael Murray (80m)
11 Luke Robins (64m)     11 Rob Hastings
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Lewis Donovan (60m)     12 Liam Baker
14 Gary Hart     14 Myles Stephenson (80m)
15 Rob Mason (64m)     15 Perry Dicker (86m)
16 George Powell (60m)     16 Nick Turner
17 Josh Castiglione     17 Joakim Ehui (69m)
      Referee:Geoff Russell  Assistants: Abdul Kadir & Daniel Johnston      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  




The Woods came from behind to notch their third successive victory, their best start to a season since the last promotion-winning year of 2002/03; some thirteen years ago. And they did it away at a Royston Town side who were among the pre-season favourites for the title themselves. Manager Mark Burgess had the perfect solution to his first forced change to the starting line-up this season with skipper Steve Brown unavailable; he put himself into the back-line for his first action of the season. Max Holland also started his first game, with Liam Baker rested to the subs bench.

The Crows had made a surprisingly slow start to the new campaign after being beaten in the play-offs last season, losing at Uxbridge on the opening day before being held 1-1 by Barton Rovers, the team that had beaten them in those play-offs, in midweek. The home side began as if they wanted to put that start behind them with Ryan Towner seeing a long-range effort deflected well wide and then Luke Robins got his head to a Chris Watters free-kick but it flashed wide of the near post.

But it also didn’t take long for the confident Woods to start to threaten on the break and a good move saw Holland slip the ball to the overlapping Andy Lomas and his cut-back allowed Louis Stead to shoot and although it took a deflection it wasn’t enough to take it past goalkeeper Ron Yates’ dive. Lomas then returned to compliment to supply Holland with a ball which he carried across the area before shooting but the ball was always rising and flew over the top of the goal.

Young Woods goalkeeper Chris Haigh had proved a fine deputy for the injured Berkley Laurencin so far and he made a comfortable save from an angled strike to deny Ryan Ingrey a minute later and then Towner tried his luck from distance again but was well off target. It was entertaining stuff but it was a while before the next goalmouth action which came on 31 minutes. Holland did well again, getting past pacy full-back Gus Scott-Morriss and whipping in a cross and the attempted clearance hit Michael Murray and could have gone anywhere but in fact rebounded to safety.

Jon Munday picked up a yellow card for his first foul of the game two minutes later while Royston then had Robins and Bridges booked inside a few strange minutes when the context of the game could probably have seen them ignored. Then Haigh made his first error of the game with a poor kick-out. It went straight to the speedy Rhys Hoeness who raced for goal but then shot across goal and wide of the far post.

But on 43 minutes the Woods conceded their first goal of the season as Watters did well to knock in a cross from the left and Robins stretched out a leg to divert it goalwards. Haigh had taken a step the other way in an attempt to save and although he made a gallant attempt to recover, the ball went in under his body. Northwood tried to hit back immediately when they won a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal. It was Murray territory and he struck it well but Yates also got down well to his right to scramble it away. Almost immediately the Crows countered quickly but Haigh kept out Robins’ shot at his near-post.

Behind at the break, the Woods would need to show excellent spirit in the second-half of they were going to get anything out of the game and they showed just that to be level just 32 seconds after the restart. A forward ball saw George Nicholas get ahead of the defence and he showed great composure to take it across the ‘keeper and then bury a shot under pressure from two defenders.

Another Robins strike lacked power to get past Haigh and then a similar shot from Lomas was straight at Yeats but after 54 minutes the Woods were ahead. The impressive Lomas drove forward and into the box before producing the perfect ball for Murray to fire home from twelve yards, notching his fourth goal in three games.

The home side needed to react quickly to get back in the game but Haigh pushed out a strike from Watters before a double substitution saw full-backs Scott-Morriss and Braithwaite both replaced on the hour. On 66 minutes, George Brown got on the end of a deep corner but headed across goal and far too high to threaten and then another header from Jack Bradshaw was plucked out of the air by Haigh.

Joakim Ehui replaced Holland for his first action of the season and the Rob Hastings went close with a turn and shot that crashed into the side-netting. The Woods were defending deep and when another dangerous cross came in from Watters, a shot from Hoeness was blocked by Vassell with the rebound hitting Mark Burgess and cannoning off for a corner.

Northwood were restricted to the counter-attack at this stage and a quick break from Ehui produced a good ball and a chance for Murray to net his second but his well-drilled effort was always going just wide of the far post. The Crows were still not finished and Haigh was back in action to save well from an Ingrey strike and then also cut out a Watters cross at the near-post.

Hastings was the main threat at the other end. One run and cross was just cut out by home skipper Liam McDevitt conceding a corner and he then had two shots in quick succession. The first lacked the power to beat Yates but on 88 minutes a half-cleared corner saw his shot clip the outside of the post. 

Five minutes of stoppage-time followed and Royston continued to probe with Haigh out wide to block another Watters effort while Bradshaw headed over. Finally, in the last minute of the game, a long throw from Hoeness was headed on and Bridges got a header on target but the 18-year-old ‘keeper Haigh was there again to grasp the ball safely.

Next up for the Woods is a midweek home game against newcomers Petersfield Town, who were Wessex League Champions last season and are also currently unbeaten, having drawn both of their games so far.