Northwood 0 Haywards Heath 0 (4-3 pens.)

Saturday 9th October 2021


1 Dan Purdue    
2 Adam Cash ©    
3 Pablo Velasco    
4 Declan Nche    
5 Arnold Linturn    
6 Ryan Avery    
7 Shakeel Morris    
18 Matt Ayres (90m)    
9 Ismael Ehui (76m)    
10 Leo Decabo    
11 Gio Palmer (68m)    
12 Sam Coles (68m)    
14 Matteo Esposito (90m)    
15 Matt Surmon    
16 Imani Matthews (76m)    
17 William Dupray    
19 Aaron Petch    
20 Montel Joseph    

Haywards Heath: Billy Collings, Hamish Morrison, Tom Cadman, Byron Napper, Tom Gilbert , Nathan Cooper, Josh Clack (Jordan Clark 70m), Jordy Ndozid , Davigildo Cravid (Jensen Dos-Santos 63m), Kieran Rowe , Luke Robinson


Woods put their recent league woes behind them to progress to the next round of the F.A. Trophy with a penalty shoot-out win over in-form Haywards Heath Town.

Northwood came into the tie on the back of two heavy league defeats where they conceded an avalanche of goals, prompting manager Ben Murray to make changes to his defensive set up by giving a debut to goalkeeper Dan Purdue in place of Montel Joseph and opting for three central defenders in Adam Cash, Ryan Avery and Arnie Linturn. Striker Ismael Ehui returned after his injury lay off in place of Connor Cullen with Shakeel Morris moving inside to a more central role to partner Ehui, while Gio Palmer was given his first start on the left flank.

The visitors were quickly out of the blocks and showing why they currently top the Isthmian South East Division table by creating a succession of chances in the opening 20 minutes – Purdue pulling off a couple of smart saves to deny Kieran Rowe and Tom Cadman while the former had another effort scrambled clear by Avery.

Northwood stood up to the early examination of their defensive credentials and they managed to counter with Morris having a couple of half chances as he fired into the side netting before getting his header on the end of a Ehui cross, but the effort lacked the power to trouble visiting keeper Billy Collings.

Woods were given a reminder of Haywards Heath attacking prowess as Nathan Cooper forced Purdue into a full length save as he fired in a shot from distance. At the other end, Woods had a great opportunity to take the lead as Cash advanced from the back before sliding the ball through to Ehui who betrayed his recent lack of match time as he scuffed his shot when well placed.

Photos taken by CHRIS BENN of the Middlesex FA can be seen here

Northwood could be content with their first half performance but would need to maintain the level in the second period if they were to progress in the competition. And the early stages followed a similar pattern to that of the opening half as the hosts were forced onto the back foot with Rowe having a close-range effort blocked before Cadman saw his fierce cross shot rebound off the underside of the Northwood crossbar amid claims of a foul on Cash in the build-up.

Having resisted the Heathens pressure, Woods began to ask questions of their own once again with Morris and Declan Nche combining well to create an opening for Ehui but his shot was comfortably gathered by Collings.
Sam Coles replaced the hobbling Palmer on 68 minutes as Northwood continued to press for that elusive goal and they went close as Morris saw his shot rebound off the base of the far upright after Nche had headed Leo Decabo’s lofted free kick back into the danger area.

Woods made a second substitution with 15 minutes left on the clock as new signing Imani Matthews replaced the tiring Ehui in attack. And with both sides striving for that elusive goal, chances proceeded to be created at both ends – Purdue producing a wonderful point blank save to keep out Luke Robinson’s header, while at the other end, Matthews surged forward before picking out Morris who was crowded out by the Heathens defence as he looked to get his shot away.

Play continued to ebb and flow with Purdue producing another fine save to keep out Byron Napper’s long-range effort. But both defences stood firm and with no extra-time in this year’s competition, it was straight to penalties to decide the tie.

Substitute Matteo Esposito was first up for Woods, having been introduced in stoppage time with penalties in mind and with only his second touch of the afternoon he coolly dispatched his effort beyond Collings.

After Jensen Dos Sanos had missed the first penalty for the visitors, Decabo and Nche made no mistake for the Woods. The Heathens recovered to convert their next two attempts, but the unfortunate Cash saw his effort saved by Collings.

Next up was Morris, who made no mistake to heap the pressure on Cadman with the visitors’ fifth penalty, but man of the match Purdue guessed right to win the tie for Northwood, sparking celebrations between players and supporters.

A well-deserved success for Murray and his men, a wonderful response to their recent troubles and something to build on as Woods look for an improvement in their league form.