NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 6th February 2016   ROYSTON TOWN FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 0  Royston Town 4   

Scott Bridges 7, Thomas 24,
Bradshaw 28, Ingrey 80

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Mayson Tewkesbury
2 Georges Ehui     2 Danny May
3 Andy Lomas     3 Chris Watters
4 Steve Brown © (44m)     4 Scott Bridges ©
5 James Budden     5 Liam McDevitt
6 Bayley Brown (80m)     6 Daniel Braithwaite
7 Max Holland     7 Erkan Okay (41m)
8 James Burgess     8 Jack Bradshaw
9 Niko Muir     9 Simon Thomas (68m)
10 Louis Stead     10 Ryan Ingrey
11 Rob Hastings (66m)     11 Rhys Hoenes (80m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Joakim Ehui (66m)     12 Ryan Towner (41m)
14 Myles Stephenson (46m)     14 Reece Dobson (68m)
15 -     15 Gus Scott-Morriss
16 Jermaine Heron (80m)     16 Tommy Hull (80m)
17 Mark Burgess     17 Stuart Bridges
      Referee: Paul Lister; Assistants: Gareth Mays & Richard Letheren      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  




Northwood’s eleven match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end as title-challengers Royston Town swept to an emphatic victory at Northwood Park on Saturday. Very little went right for the Woods, losing Alex Nolan to a groin strain suffered in the warm-up before the game had even started. Georges Ehui was promoted from the subs bench to cover in an unfamiliar right-back role but in an otherwise unchanged starting line-up from that which had secured a superb win at Chalfont St. Peter a week earlier.

The overnight rain had left the pitch a bit heavy in a few areas but the main weather issue was the strong blustery wind that blew down the pitch with Royston enjoying the benefit of it behind them in the first half. And they took just seven minutes to make it count. Jack Bradshaw had already gone close with a low shot before a good approach ball was cleverly dummied by Bradshaw and Scott Bridges swiftly turned on the edge of the box and hit a crisp shot that gave Berkley Laurencin no chance.

The Woods tried hard to respond against the conditions and when a corner was only half-cleared Andy Lomas went for goal but the ball was always rising and flew over the bar. There was a clash of head on 15 minutes which left both Bradshaw and Louis Stead needing treatment for cuts and the Woods continued to look to make some headway, forcing another corner on 23 minutes. This time, Steve Brown went up for a header only to be clattered by goalkeeper Mayson Tewkesbury who conceded both a penalty and a yellow card. It was a great opportunity to get back on level terms but in-form striker Niko Muir’s spot-kick lacked power and Tewkesbury redeemed himself, saving low to his left.

It was a disastrous minute for Northwood. The keeper moved the ball swiftly upfield and the tricky Rhys Hoenes moved in from the left to knock in a good cross which was glanced home by Simon Thomas to double the Crows lead. Before the Woods had much time to regroup, Hoenes, who had won two penalties for his side in a midweek win at Ware, went down in the box under a challenge by Stead and the Referee pointed to the spot once again. Bradshaw showed no ill effects from his head injury by smacking the ball into the roof of the net from twelve yards and at 0-3, Royston were suddenly in complete command.

There could have been another penalty just three minutes later when Bridges got himself just ahead of James Budden and then went to ground inside the box but the Referee gave the Woods defender the benefit of any doubt on this occasion. Bradshaw curled a shot wide from 25 yards as the pressure continued but the Woods had a chance to pull one back on 41 minutes as a corner dropped kindly to Rob Hastings but he could only hook his shot straight at the keeper.

Ryan Ingrey had an opportunity before the break but shot weakly at Laurencin and then both sides were forced into a substitution. Ryan Towner replaced Erkan Okay for the visitors but more significantly Northwood skipper Steve Brown was forced off having rolled his ankle and was replaced by Myles Stephenson with James Burgess dropping back into central defence.

So, although Northwood had the assistance of the strong wind for the second-half, Royston were able to set up to defend their big advantage and they did it well from the restart. Liam McDevitt picked up an early booking for going through the back of Rob Hastings. And it was McDevitt who went closest for the Woods in the early stages as he headed an Ehui free-kick not far wide of his own post.  The Crows still looked dangerous on the break and when Muir lost the ball in midfield, Bradshaw had another effort pushed wide by Laurencin,
Stephenson battled away up front and did manage to get a shot on target on 62 minutes but without the power to trouble Tewkesbury. Two minutes later the Woods had their best opportunity to get back into the game when Muir slipped a superb ball that put Hastings in on goal. He lifted a shot over Tewkesbury but the ‘keeper just managed to get a strong outstretched hand on it to keep it out with Stephenson unable to get to the loose ball.

Mark Burgess used his subs to change things around with Joakim Ehui and Jermaine Heron replacing Rob Hastings and Bayley Brown but it was becoming a frustrating task for the Woods. Stephenson tried his luck from distance but the ball flew over the top and it was Royston who notched the only goal of the half on 81 minutes when Hoenes flicked on a long ball and released Ingrey who knocked a cool finish past Laurencin for a fourth goal.

In response, Northwood managed just one effort on goal when Heron did well to get a cross in from the right and Budden’s header down was well saved by Tewkesbury to maintain his side’s clean sheet.
The defeat leaves the Woods six points short of the play-off places but still with plenty to play for in the final fifteen matches. There is a brief break from that on Tuesday night as they face a tough away game at Godalming Town in the Red Insure League Cup, looking to put this defeat behind them and earn a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.