NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 17th December 2016   BARTON ROVERS

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 2 Barton Rovers 0   

Debattista 29, Campbell-Young 73

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Montel Joseph     1 Tom Coulton
2 Alex Nolan     2 Howie Hall
3 Callum Wright     3 Charlie Smith
4 Mark Burgess     4 Lee Close (85m)
5 James Budden     5 Steve Gentle
6 Luke Heneghan (66m)     6 Tom Smith
7 Channing Campbell-Young     7 Jack Keating
8 James Burgess     8 Luke Knight
9 Ryan Debattista     9 Elliot Bailey
10 Louis Bircham     10 Michael Malcolm
11 Joakim Ehui (85m)     11 Jimmy Hartley (56m)
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Myles Stephenson (77m)     12 Byron Bubb (56m)
14 Filipe Anjos     14 Kay Bola (85m)
15 Fabian Brown (85m)     15 Jamie Small
16 Gradi Milenge     16 David Corran
17 -     17 Dom Rodgero
      Referee: Paul Lister; Assistants: Tom Fell & Kennedy Kikulw      


  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  



After a ten-day break to recover from their worst result of the season, the Woods bounced back with this solid home victory over play-off seeking Barton Rovers.

Mark Burgess, back from a mid-season break, was forced into naming himself in defence in the absence of Gradi Milenge while there was a recall for Alex Nolan which allowed Louis Bircham to return to a more comfortable forward role. The loss of top scorer Louis Stead in a sideways move to Egham Town also had to be overcome and this lead to a return to the starting line-up for Joakim Ehui. Ismael Ehui was also missing and with Filipe Anjos carrying an injury, the bench was certainly weakened though boosted by the signing of Fabian Brown from Dunstable Town.

Barton Rovers had been on a good run of form but were missing top scorer Connor Calcutt who was unavailable but their squad did include three former Northwood players in Howard Hall, Lee Close and Byron Bubb who made fifteen appearances for the club between them.

The visitors had plenty of possession at the start of the match and forced a few corners from which they threatened. Charlie Smith delivered one to the near post that James Burgess missed when attempting to clear and the ball was chested wide of the post by Michael Malcolm. Another corner was half-cleared but Tom Smith tried his luck with an acrobatic overhead-kick but the ball was well wide of the target.

Having not forced goalkeeper Montel Joseph into a save by this stage, the Woods then had a goal disallowed as Bircham received a good ball on the left and fired home only for an offside flag to rule it out. There were many that thought it was a harsh, narrow decision but it did kick the Woods into gear and Channing Campbell-Young went close with one effort before Northwood did take the lead on 29 minutes. It wasn’t the best of ball that found Ryan Debattista outside the box but he swivelled and struck it superbly well with goalkeeper Tom Coulton unable to keep it out of the top corner despite getting a hand to it.

Ehui had a shot deflected for a corner and Mark Burgess saw his effort blocked as the Woods tried to gain a bigger advantage while Barton went close after Jimmy Hartley picked out a marauding Charlie Smith whose low strike was pushed wide by a diving Joseph. From the resulting corner, Tom Smith flicked on a header at the near-post and the ball flashed across the face of the goal and only just wide of the far post.

It had been an entertaining half and when the industrious Luke Heneghan fed Bircham on the left he drove an excellent shot across goal, Coulton did well to push the ball wide of the post.

Rovers came out strongly after the break with Joseph making a save from a low Hartley shot early on but Hartley limped off soon after to be replaced by Bubb. The Woods were defending strongly all across the back-line but another good strike from Charlie Smith could only be pushed away by Joseph and it cannoned into Lee Close only to rebound straight back to the home ’keeper.

A very rare occurrence came on 61 minutes as Ehui picked up his first booking in two years and a very harsh one as he went down in the box and was immediately booked for a dive despite never looking for a penalty.

It was 64 minutes that Barton perhaps sensed it wasn’t to be their day as Elliot Bailey skipped a tackle from James Budden to get in on goal but Joseph saved well from both his initial shot to the near post and the follow-up.

The Woods were beginning to counter well again and after 73 minutes they made it count as a sweeping move saw Bircham play a ball wide to Ehui and he slipped it through perfectly for Campbell-Young who finished coolly for his first Northwood goal. Ehui wasn’t far away from a third goal with a chip to the far post that dropped just inches wide of the upright and then Debattista made room for a good strike that was straight at Coulton who saved comfortably.

Barton almost pulled a goal back on 84 minutes when Malcolm found himself unmarked in the box with the ball at his feet. His shot was slightly deflected and beat Joseph but that didn’t prevent Mark Burgess from clearing off the line. Then, three minutes later Steve Gentle let fly with a great shot but Joseph was equal to it again, producing a flying stop that deflected the ball wide.

In stoppage-time, the Woods should have had a third as Callum Wright drove forward to create a great opportunity for Debattista who fired home but again a disputed flag rose for an offside decision to rule it out.

The Woods will need to take this form into their final game of the year on Tuesday night as they travel for a midweek game against an Aylesbury side who have been struggling for league points.