NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 20th February 2016   WARE FC

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 1  Ware 2   

Budden 89

Bishop 16, Wynter 87

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Berkley Laurencin     1 Tom Coulton
2 Georges Ehui (74m)     2 Jack Mace
3 Andy Lomas     3 Allaa Oujdi ©
4 Steve Brown © (88m)     4 Ryan Hervel
5 James Budden     5 Marcus Rose
6 George Nicholas     6 Benjamin Crilley
7 Joakim Ehui     7 Khale Dacosta (88m)
8 James Burgess     8 Jimmy Hartley (68m)
9 Niko Muir     9 Kieran Bishop
10 Louis Stead     10 Dernell Wynter
11 Rob Hastings     11 Murat Karagul (88m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Max Holland     12 Eliot Bailey (68m)
14 Bayley Brown (88m)     14 Steven O'Hara (88m)
15 -     15 Harley Haag (88m)
16 Mark Burgess     16 -
17 Jermaine Heron (74m)     17 Joe Simmonds
      Referee: Adrian Gillett; Assistants: Daniel Jacob & Spencer Brewer      
  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  

Northwood’s shaky home form deserted them again just when they needed a win to keep them firmly in the play-off hunt as Ware earned a narrow but deserved victory, completing a “double” over the Woods. It was the 2-0 defeat at Ware back at the end of September that was Northwood’s last away defeat this season but it is at Northwood Park that points have been leaked and this was their second loss in succession. Steve Brown returned to strengthen the Woods defence in place of manager Mark Burgess but it was the visitors who started brightest on a pitch made heavy by the incessant heavy rain that had started a couple of hours prior to kick-off.

Khale Dacosta and Murat Karagul both had early efforts on goal but after 16 minutes Dernell Wynter robbed James Budden of possession down the right side of the penalty-area and he cut the ball back to the onrushing Kieran Bishop who took a good touch before crashing home a shot that gave goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin no chance. Two minutes later Louis Stead tried his luck from a free-kick but was unable to steer his effort past goalkeeper Tom Coulton who saved comfortably. Then a corner led to Budden heading a Joakim Ehui cross wide.

Coulton was in action again to keep out a Rob Hastings shot at his near post but Ware’s top scorer Bishop went close again on 27 minutes as he was slipped in by Dacosta but arrowed his strike wide of the far post. The Woods were working hard in increasingly difficult conditions to try to get back on level terms. Joakim Ehui’s effort was deflected wide for a corner and from that George Nicholas drove a shot which flashed over the bar.

With half-time approaching, Dacosta battled his way through the middle but then failed to get any power on his shot and Laurencin gathered safely while Karagul also found space for a shot but it was straight at the Woods keeper. In between this another Stead free-kick brought Coulton into action again but he got behind it well. The pitch was getting really heavy as the second-half commenced and both sides got a little bogged down in the centre of the park with a long-range effort from Andy Lomas the only attempt at goal in the first fifteen minutes; it flew well over.

Bishop did well to make room for a strike at goal on 62 minutes which Laurencin saved well and the Woods were struggling to create much at the other end. However, after 72 minutes a deep Lomas free-kick was hooked back towards goal by Budden and Coulton did well to drop on the loose ball as the Woods tried to turn it in at the near post.

Northwood introduced Jermaine Heron to add some fresh legs but were still unable to penetrate the Ware defence and after 88 minutes the visitors seemingly put the game beyond reach. A deflected shot wrong-footed Laurencin and was heading for goal when Brown stopped it from crossing the line but he struggled to clear the ball and Wynter slid in to stab the ball into the net.

But it wasn’t quite all over. Northwood won a corner and Budden rose highest to power a header into the top corner in the final minute and the Woods threw everyone forward in an effort to find an equaliser. A corner in the third minute of stoppage-time saw even Laurencin move upfield in an effort to get a goal and when the ball dropped around the penalty-spot both James Burgess and Hastings got clear shots on target but both times they were denied by Coulton who did well to make a double-save.

The Woods had battled hard but ultimately came up against a Ware side who seem to be finding the form that took them to the edge of the play-off positions earlier in the season and they fell a little further behind in the push for a play-off place. But there is still plenty to play for, starting with Tuesday night’s Middlesex Senior Cup semi-final against Ryman Premier side Staines Town.