NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 19th November 2016   BEDFORD TOWN

Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central

  Northwood 3 Bedford Town 2   

Debattista 8, 81, 85

Tshikuna 1, Karkaki 50

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Montel Joseph     1 Peter Denton (46m)
2 Louis Bircham     2 Devante Stanley
3 Callum Wright     3 Hammed Lawal
4 Gradi Milenge     4 Tommy Hull
5 James Budden     5 James Peters
6 Louis Stead     6 Luke Knight ©
7 Chan Campbell-Young     7 Sam Baffour
8 James Burgess     8 Adam Watkins
9 Ryan Debattista     9 Jamal McKenzie-Lowe (46m)
10 Myles Stephenson (89m)     10 Nathan Tshikuna
11 Andre Costa (62m)     11 Chris Marsh
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Alex Nolan     12 George Boland
14 Filipe Anjos     14 Steven Karkari (46m)
15 Luke Heneghan (62m)     15 Adam Harpur (46m)
16 Ismael Ehui (69m)     16 Jordan Goater
17 Mark Burgess     17 Joel Driscoll
      Referee: Alex Blake; Assistants: Anthony Cross & Dave Cotton      


  REPORT by Alan Evans    PHOTOS by James Brown  



The Woods ended a run of three successive defeats with this narrow victory over Bedford Town thanks to a hat-trick from striker Ryan Debattista in an entertaining game that was always in the balance. Manager Mark Burgess shook things up a little by giving debuts to three new signings. Defender Gradi Milenge was released by Brentford in the summer and had a spell with Grays Athletic before linking up with the Woods while midfielder Channing Campbell-Young has a pedigree which includes Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers. The third debutant, Andre Costa is more experienced having played for Bishop’s Stortford, Kingstonian and Hendon but is still only 23. With Frankie Jones out injured and Joakim Ehui ill, the strengthening of the squad was timely. Skipper James Burgess was making his 200th appearance for the Club.

Yet the Woods could not have made a worse start. Within 30 seconds, the Eagles attacked down the right, Sam Baffour raced forward with his pace and crossed into the danger-zone. Northwood missed the chance to clear the ball and Nathan Tshikuna gleefully accepted the chance to bury the ball from ten yards. But the Woods settled quickly into some neat football and after just eight minutes Callum Wright swung in a corner and Louis Stead’s header came crashing back off the crossbar. Debattista was quickest to the loose ball but needed two attempts to force home the equaliser.

It was an open and entertaining half with both sides looking to attack and Bedford went closest next as Baffour fired a shot across goal but also well wide. James Budden headed a corner wide for the Woods but on 26 minutes the Eagles had a great chance to regain the lead when another cross from Baffour saw Jamal McKenzie-Lowe get a good touch ahead of Milenge but Montel Joseph pulled off a fine save to deny him.

They would regret that miss five minutes later when Louis Bircham, playing in an unfamiliar wing-back role, lifted a good ball across to find Debattista wide on the right. The striker showed excellent skill to bring the ball down and then fire a fierce shot past goalkeeper Peter Denton and inside his near post to put Northwood in front. Costa put in a good cross after 38 minutes which was headed down by Myles Stephenson and Campbell-Young struck his shot well but it was always going just wide.

The visitors rang the changes at half-time, replacing McKenzie-Lowe with Steven Karkari and unusually, Denton with substitute goalkeeper Adam Harpur. It had an almost immediate effect. After Campbell-Young had been booked for what looked a 50/50 challenge on Tommy Hull, Bedford pushed forward and although Joseph made a good save to keep out a stinging effort from Tshikuna, it was Karkari who was on hand to convert the loose ball and bring the Eagles back level.

It stirred Bedford into a really good spell as the Woods lost their tempo. Chris Marsh saw a shot deflected wide and then Baffour hit a shot that flashed across the face of goal and not far wide. Luke Heneghan replaced Costa, who had been out injured for some time, as the Woods looked to steady things but still Bedford pressed and a good strike from ex-Luton Town midfielder Adam Watkins was kept out by the impressive Joseph who followed up with another save low down from the same player a minute later.

After 72 minutes Northwood finally created another chance of their own with Heneghan seeing his cross half-cleared out to Bircham whose chip was deflected and curled only just wide of the target. The Woods were suddenly beginning to threaten again. Debattista latched on to a ball from Bircham to hit a good shot on the turn which was blocked with Campbell-Young striking the loose ball wide. Then Debattista headed a corner across goal and Milenge ghosted in at the far post but nodded the ball the wrong side of the upright.

But the persistence paid off in the 85th minute as Campbell-Young knocked in an excellent cross from the right and Debattista flicked the ball home to complete an excellent hat-trick, his first for the club. And it proved to be enough as the Eagles were unable to regroup in those closing stages and the Woods saw the game out comfortably to complete a double over their opponents.