NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 2nd February 2016   SPELTHORNE FC

Middlesex Senior Cup quarter-final

  Northwood 2 Spelthorne Sports 1   

Stephenson 39, Muir 81

Quashie 9

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Dane Buss
2 Alex Nolan     2 Billy Roach
3 Andy Lomas     3 Jamie Richards
4 Mark Burgess     4 Qaseem Sotonwa
5 Steve Brown ©     5 Frankie Law
6 Georges Ehui (88m)     6 Ashley Quashie © (76m)
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Callum McKay (90m)
8 James Burgess (59m)     8 Jake Hicks
9 Niko Muir     9 Lee Staples (87m)
10 Myles Stephenson     10 Conor Moody
11 Jermaine Heron (42m)     11 Simo Mbonkwi
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Louis Stead (59m)     12 Simon Muir
14 Max Holland (42m)     14 Joe Goodman (87m)
15 Bayley Brown (88m)     15 Tom Hall (76m)
16 Rob Hastings     16 Joe Hughes (90m)
17 James Budden     17 Matthew Bonnett
      Referee: Michael Heavey; Assistants: F Costache & Mark Sennett      
  REPORT by Alan Evans  



The Woods grabbed a spot in the semi-finals of the Middlesex Senior Challenge Cup with a late goal from Niko Muir just being enough to see off a spirited Spelthorne side in the first-ever game between the two clubs at first team level.  The visitors had reached this stage of the competition for the first-time and with a home game against prestigious near-neighbours Staines Town the reward for success, they were really up for the twice-postponed cup-tie.

Mark Burgess gave some game time to players who have been on the bench in recent games, including playing himself in central defence while the Georges Ehui started for the first time along with his brother Joakim Ehui as well as Myles Stephenson and Jermaine Heron, who was also making his first start, in attack. Burgess showed his rustiness early on as after just nine minutes he played a suicidal ball across the edge of his own penalty-area and as Steve Brown slipped, Sports skipper Ashley Quashie stole in and thumped the ball home to give Berkley Laurencin no chance in goal.

It was not the start that the Woods would have wanted and they took time to settle. It took 18 minutes for Heron to record the first shot on target as he cut in from the left but his strike lacked power and goalkeeper Dane Buss made a comfortable save. Two minutes later the same player went for goal again but the ball looped up kindly so Buss could grab it safely.

Gradually, Northwood began to gain control and after Buss had plucked a Brown header from under the bar, they levelled the scores on 39 minutes. Stephenson had already been wayward with a couple of strikes on goal but this time he was played into the box and he held off a couple of closing defenders before shooting past the ‘keeper from ten yards. The unlucky Heron was forced off with injury on 42 minutes, replaced by Max Holland and Spelthorne went close to regaining the lead just before the break as a quick counter attack led to an early strike from Connor Moody which wasn’t far wide of the post.

But from the restart, the Woods suddenly looked much sharper and they created a succession of early chances. Muir raced down the right and knocked in a ball that flashed across the six-yard box. Holland retrieved it at the far post and set up Georges Ehui for a shot that was just wide of the goal. After 48 minutes more good work from Holland led to Georges Ehui playing in Andy Lomas and his ball saw Stephenson hit a good shot on the turn which was well saved by Buss in goal. From the resulting corner, swung in by Joakim Ehui, Brown was onto it again but again his header flashed wide.

Stephenson then headed another Muir cross over the bar but then the Woods had a big setback. Stephenson fouled Quashie on the right flank and it create a flashpoint as the Spelthorne player reacted and the two came together. The resulting red card for the Woods striker appeared excessive; Quashie picked up a yellow but with ten men for the rest of the game, the Woods were now up against it. Northwood opted to stay attacking by bringing on Louis Stead for James Burgess and Holland went close with a run and shot that flew over the bar.
After 62 minutes a good ball in from Quashie gave a good chance to Lee Staples but his flick was well saved by Laurencin and soon after this Moody received a yellow card for following through on the Woods ‘keeper as he gathered a through-ball.

But the visitors weren’t getting on top with their man advantage and the Woods got their noses in front for the first time after 81 minutes as Muir notched his fifth goal in the last four games. Picking the ball up outside the box he attacked and battled his way past two defenders before rifling a shot in at the near post to give Buss no chance.

The Woods in-form striker should have scored again two minutes later as a good ball put him through one-on-one with the ‘keeper but his shot was well blocked by Buss and the ball was cleared.  Spelly rallied in the closing stages of the match though. Substitute Tom Hall shot straight at Laurencin when finding some space and Moody did the same with his chance in stoppage-time before a final effort was deflected wide.

The Woods were happy to take their narrow victory and now have home advantage for a place in the Final as they take on Ryman Premier side Staines Town in a few weeks’ time.