Westfield 3  Northwood 0

Saturday 19th September 2020


1 Hafed Al-Droubi    
2 Ryan Esprit (46m)    
3 Jaden Sharman    
4 Craig Carby    
5 Dave Thomas    
6 Calvin Dickson    
7 Marcelo Graca    
8 Charlie Kuehn (57m)    
9 Richard Ward (69m)    
10 Lucas Toti    
11 George Isaac    
12 Devonte Totesaut (46m)    
14 Luke Jones (57m)    
15 Diogo Da Silva    
16 Ryan Phillips    
17 David Castanho (69m)    

Westfield: Renell McKenzie-Lyle, Rylan Myers (Jake Rumble 76m), Joel Nakatani-Brown, Mo Sabo, Kai Davis, Caleb Wright, Darnell Goather-Braithwaite (Cameron Rohart-Brown 64m), Ryan Marklew, Maciej Tajs, Aderi Dede (Aidan King 69m), IK Hill


History repeated itself when Northwood suffered a 3-0 opening day league defeat at the hands of a well-drilled Westfield for the second season running.

Both sides have undergone a complete transformation since the last meeting with Westfield now under the direction of Simon Lane and it was the former Woods manager’s rebuilt team who deservedly took the points against a below-par Northwood.

There were a couple of changes to Rob Ursell’s team which had started the previous week’s F.A. cup tie. Attacking midfielder Lucas Toti returned to take up his position behind Richard Ward who was pushed forward into the central striker’s role in the absence of Amin Belaid while there was a change in defence as Jaden Sharman regained the left-back slot with Ryan Esprit switching to right-back and Luke Jones reverting to the bench.

Westfield were quickly into their stride and created a couple openings in the first couple of minutes as Woods goalkeeper Hafed Al-Droubi gathered a cross-shot and an effort from Aderi Dede.

But having stood up to the host’s opening burst, Northwood gradually asserted themselves and went onto to enjoy their best period of the game as they created a series of opportunities. Calvin Dickson combined well with Toti who released George Issac who cut inside from the left, but his shot from the edge of the box cleared the Westfield crossbar. And Toti was involved again as he released the overlapping Sharman whose pullback into the danger area was cleared by the home defence.

Woods continued to probe through the left channel with Issac linking up well again with Toti but the former’s curling effort flew narrowly wide of the far upright. And Sharman, who was getting up well from left-back, created another chance for Issac who was denied by goalkeeper Rennell McKenzie - Lyle with Dickson almost in on the rebound as the shot was parried.

Westfield finally broke their defensive shackles to mount a swift counter-attack which saw Ik Hill try his luck with a long range shot which failed to trouble Al-Droubi and Woods were immediately back on the offensive with McKenzie-Lyle comfortably gathering another Issac attempt before Dickson fired over from outside the box.

Having withstood the Northwood pressure, Westfield proceeded to enjoy a spell of attacking dominance with Darnell Goather-Braithwaite and Ryan Marklew going close before Al-Droubi produced a smart save to deny Maciej Tajs. And Al Droubi was called into action again as he palmed away another effort from Goather-Braithwaite.
Woods were struggling to regain their attacking momentum with their build up play becoming increasingly pedestrian and it was the hosts who threatened again as a shot on the turn from the lively Goather-Braithwaite flew narrowly over the Northwood crossbar.

And the deadlock was finally broken two minutes before the break after a free-kick conceded on the halfway line was launched into the Northwood box with the attempted clearance falling to Tajs on the edge of the area who fired a low shot into the bottom corner to give his side a half-time lead.

Northwood made a change at the break, with debutant Devonte Totesaut being introduced to the attack with Esprit making way and Charlie Kuehn moving into the right-back slot. But it was Westfield who were asking further questions as skipper Dave Thomas made a timely interception to foil Dede before Joel Nakatani-Brown’s ball across the face of the Woods goal just evaded the stretching Tajs.

Woods went close to regaining parity as Dickson found space down the right before his pull-back found Toti whose shot was blocked with the rebound falling to Kuehn but his effort was kept out by McKenzie-Lyle. And Northwood continued the search for an equaliser as Issac was denied once again by the Westfield stopper before Totesaut was on unable to keep his shot down following an incisive move involving Toti and Dickson
Northwood made another change just before the hour-mark with Jones replacing Kuehn at right-back but the visitor’s task was immediately made more difficult as Westfield extended their lead as Goather-Braithwaite applied a neat finish to a swift counter-attack.

Westfield went close to adding a third as Rylan Myers saw his shot saved by Al-Droubi. But Al Droubi was left helpless minutes later as he impeded Tajs as the Westfield striker looked to take the ball round the Woods keeper who was perhaps fortunate to escape with a caution, Dede making no mistake with the penalty kick to put the game beyond Northwood on 69 minutes.

Woods made their final substitution as Ward made way for the reappearance of David Castanho who was last seen in the final game of the previous campaign before lockdown. But the substitution made little impact and the scoreline could have been worse for Northwood had it not been for El-Droubi who pulled off a series of saves to deny Kai Davis and Hill.

Frustrations grew with Thomas and Castanho picking up cautions but there was nothing left in the tank as El-Droubi foiled Hill once more before the end of a disappointing afternoon for Northwood.

REPORT by Robin Piper
PHOTOS by James Brown