NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 23rd February 2016   STAINES TOWN

Middlesex Senior Cup semi-final

  Northwood 2 Staines Town 0   

Muir 60, 88

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Jack Turner
2 Georges Ehui     2 Bobby Bezhadi
3 Andy Lomas     3 Chinua Cole
4 Mark Burgess     4 Jeremy Boakye
5 James Budden     5 De Reece Vanderhyde
6 George Nicholas (89m)     6 Hamilton Bunga
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Erivaldo Felix
8 James Burgess     8 Tyrell Miller-Rodney
9 Niko Muir     9 Pat Cox
10 Louis Stead     10 Prince M'Bengul (54m)
11 Rob Hastings (90m)     11 Michael Kalu (67m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Max Holland     12 Tommy Brewer
14 Bayley Brown (89m)     14 Harry Churchill
15 -     15 Jack Bennett (67m)
16 Steve Brown     16 Jack Hutchinson (54m)
17 Jermaine Heron (90m)     17 Adrian Clifton
      Referee: Neil Thompson; Assistants: Mitchell Payne & A Hickman      
  REPORT by Alan Evans   

The Middlesex Senior Cup Final awaits the Woods for the first time in nine years after this solid victory over Ryman Premier Division side Staines Town, with in-form striker Niko Muir netting both goals in the second half.

Mark Burgess was back in defence as Steve Brown was rested again and the Woods were down to the bare bones of a squad with only thirteen fit players available. Add to that the fact that the pitch, still pretty rough in areas, needed to pass an afternoon inspection and it seemed Northwood were going to be up against it.
Staines Town, struggling close to the foot of the table after relegation from the Conference South last summer, had appointed a new manager in Johnson Hippolyte and he has already made considerable changes to the squad. Some were unavailable through being cup-tied, but the Swans still had plenty of strength in their side.

It was Muir who had the first sight of goal after ten minutes but he blazed his shot so deep into the cemetery, the ball was never found! Staines were enjoying plenty of possession though and two minutes later a couple of defensive slips allowed Prince M’Bengui a sight of goal but his weak shot drifted wide of the target. Muir enjoyed a good run at the defence on 20 minutes and knocked in a cross which was cleared just ahead of Rob Hastings coming in to convert, while at the other end Erivaldo Felix knocked in a good cross and top scorer Pat Cox headed wide.

A corner on 32 minutes also fell to Cox but his strike lacked power and was cleared away. Then, two minutes later a ball appeared to put M’Bengui in on goal but as he shaped to shoot, Andy Lomas got in a superb tackle to deny him the chance. But generally there was little action in front of goal as the half-time whistle arrived. In the second-half, Cox had an early chance when he got his head to a near-post cross but it flew wide of the upright and then Northwood began to get a grip on the game.

Hastings had a shot deflected wide for a corner and an effort from Louis Stead had the same result but the pressure told on the hour as the Woods took the lead. Stead did well in the middle and played Joakim Ehui into the attack on the right. He beat his marker and provided the perfect cross to find Muir on the edge of the box and he volleyed home an unstoppable shot.

One-time Woods loanee Tyrell Miller-Rodney saw an effort deflected and spin wide of the post as the Swans tried to rally and Staines introduced two other former Northwood players as substitutes in Jack Hutchinson and Jack Bennett as they looked to recover.

Muir turned provider with a good run and cross to Stead whose shot on the turn was well wide while Hutchinson wasn’t far off target with a good strike soon after. But Northwood were getting on top as the game progressed and after 76 minutes a good free-kick from Stead was headed back across goal by Budden and Mark Burgess looked certain to score from just a few yards out only to flick his header wide.

Two minutes later Joakim Ehui showed excellent footwork to fashion another opportunity and his firm strike saw goalkeeper Jack Turner fly across to push the ball just wide of the post. The reds continued to force the pace and a combination of Muir, George Nicholas and then Stead combined for a goalbound effort that Turner again managed to keep out. But the keeper was powerless to prevent the killer second goal on 88 minutes as Muir was put through on goal and he fired into the bottom corner for his own second of the game which put Northwood safely through to the final.

The Woods will meet another Ryman Premier side in that Final after Enfield Town defeated Ashford Town (Middlesex) 6-4 after-extra-time in the other semi-final. Having beaten Harrow Borough, Hendon and now Staines Town from that division already that season, the side should have plenty of confidence as they look to win the trophy for the second time in the club’s history.