NORTHWOOD FC   Saturday 7th April 2018   AFC RUSHDEN & D.

Evo-Stik League South, East

  Northwood 1  AFC Rushden & D. 1  

Kouassi 30

Gyassi 50

Team line-up  
  Team line-up
1 Xavi Comas (58m)     13 Ben Heath
2 Isaac Olorunfemi     2 Callum Westwood (90m)
3 Keir Dickson     3 Ben Ford (90m)
4 Wilson Chingoka ©     4 Jack Westbrook
5 Tom Gilbey     5 Liam Dolman
6 Sam Tring     6 Sam Brown
7 Declan Nche     7 Joel Gyasi
8 Lewis Hobbs     8 Joe Curtis
9 Jermaine Osei (82m)     9 Tom Lorraine
10 Evans Kouassi (77m)     10 Spencer Weir-Daley (77m)
11 Femi Azeez     11 Luke Fairlamb
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Paolo Montella (58m)     12 Ross Oulton (90m)
14 Sam Oyeniran (77m)     14 Bryan Robbins (77m)
15 Harry Newman     15 John Dean (90m)
16 Temiloluwa Oladejo     16 Cameron Gilchrist
17 Nebay Haile (82m)     18 Blaize Punter
      Referee: Joel Mannix; Assistants: Stewart Beekman & Stuart Smith      
  REPORT by Robin Piper     PHOTOS by James Brown  




Northwood finally stopped the rot as they ended their six game losing run with a well deserved draw against the league leaders. Woods’ performance was all the more admirable as they had to play almost the whole of the second period with an emergency goalkeeper after Xavi Comas suffered a nasty blow to the head while bravely attempting to keep out the Rushden equaliser.

There were a number of changes to the team which had lost to Chalfont St. Peter on Easter Monday. Tom Gilbey returned to central defence to partner Sam Tring with Lewis Hobbs moving into the defensive midfield role while there was a start for the returning Declan Nche in the middle of the park. Femi Azeez started in a left sided attacking role with Harry Newman and Nebay Haile reverting to the subs bench whilst Meshach Williams was missing through injury.

Click image to read programme

There was a cagey start to proceedings from both sides before  Jermaine Osei rippled the Diamond’s net after an incisive move but was denied by an offside flag after being played in by Evans Kouassi. At the other end, Spencer Weir-Daly had a volley charged down before another smart strike from the edge of box was comfortably gathered by Comas.

Comas was almost left red-faced as Liam Dolman launched an audacious attempt from inside his own half but the ferociously back-pedalling Northwood stopper just managed to claw the ball to safety.  And Diamonds continued to threaten as they went close through Sam Brown whose header from a corner flashed wide of the far post.

But it was Northwood who opened the scoring against the run of play on the half-hour mark.  A swift counter-attack saw Osei combine with Kouassi who jinked his way through the Diamonds defence before rounding goalkeeper Ben Heath and rolling the ball into the unguarded net.
Rushden responded positively to the setback as Joel Gyasi was denied by Comas, Jack Westbrook fired over from close range and Gilbey cleared off the line as Lorraine lifted the ball over Comas.

Having soaked up the Rushden pressure, Woods countered again through Kouassi but he decided to go it alone to no avail when a ball to Azeez might have been the better option. And not for the first time this season, Northwood were indebted to Comas who pulled off a point-blank save to deny Weir-Daly on the stroke of half-time as the hosts’ rearguard was caught out by a ball over the top.

The second period was only five minutes old when the main talking point of the match arrived as Weir-Daly squared the ball to Gyasi who bundled the ball home for the equalising goal despite the brave efforts of Comas.

After a lengthy delay the Northwood keeper was stretchered from the field to generous applause from both sets of supporters; the Rushden fans behind the goal no doubt regretting their earlier chants of ‘let him die’ when Comas received treatment for a head injury sustained in an earlier incident. With no reserve keeper on the bench, substitute Paolo Montella donned the gloves for Northwood.

After Woods worked a good opening which saw Kouassi drag his shot wide of the target, the hosts inevitably had some defending to do as the visitors looked to test Northwood’s rookie goal-keeper. But Montella was up to the task as he produced a full-length save to turn Gyasi’s free-kick round the post before confidently collecting another ball into the box with one hand!

Despite enjoying the better of the possession, Diamonds were struggling to create any real openings with the impressive rearguard of Gilbey, Tring and Hobbs shielding the Northwood goal to great effect and restricting the visitors to long-range efforts.

Sam Oyeniran and Haile were introduced for Kouassi and Osei and the hard-working Woods reminded Rushden of their defensive responsibilities as Azeez saw his shot deflected wide before another shot from the Northwood youngster was gathered by keeper Heath.

Diamonds made a double substitution as they sought the elusive winning goal in the extended period of stoppage-time, but it was Northwood who went closest to snatching the win as Haile’s floated pass picked out an unmarked Azeez but he blasted over from a good position.

So both sides had to settle for a point, Northwood being relieved to have secured their first point under the stewardship of Gordon Boateng and the club were further buoyed by the news that following a hospital examination, Comas had escaped serious injury.