Bill Fishenden
Ryan Duffy 2
Luke Lynam 3
Terry Hogan 4
Nicky Pearce 5
Toby Ryan 6
Shane O'Neill 7
Jack Bennett 8
Ben Trout 9
Mikkel Thomas 10
Chris White 11
Adam Gill (10) 12
Anthony Ladyman (8) 14
Feye Obileye (6) 15

Northwood reached the quarter finals of the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup with an incredible victory over Brook House in a nine-goal thriller. The Woods have had a very difficult last six weeks, with long periods between games and when they have played it has been with a long list of absentees.  A win, any win, was welcome and should give the lads a real lift ahead of their League Cup tie on Monday.

Once more there was a string of absentees for this match, including Daniel Brown, Stuart Onslow, and captain David Sexton, whilst Adam Gill was only able to get to the match for the second half.

Manager Gary Gray was forced to shuffle the pack and, almost inevitably, the lads looked out of sorts from the off.  A calamitous start saw Brook House  score a cheap opener to lead 1-0 after 2 minutes.

To the credit of the lads, they quickly settled after this setback and Shane O’Neill was unlucky with a quality strike from just inside the box after 5 minutes. Two minutes later and Woods should have been level when Ben Trout released Mickele Thomas with a clever cross from the left. Thomas was five yards out and in truth should have buried this chance, but never managed to get the ball under control and the chance went begging.

Five minutes later some clever footwork from Jack Bennett saw him weave in to the box and only a brave stop from the keeper kept the Brook House goal intact. However, the inevitable equaliser came after 17 minutes when a short free kick found Shane O’Neill in space and he whipped in a cross to the near post. Ben Trout took the ball down well and finished neatly with his left foot.

After this, Northwood piled forward in search of a second goal, and with Nicky Pearce and Terry Hogan looking secure at the back the boys were starting to look very comfortable. However, the next good chance didn’t arrive until the 37th minute when Ben Trout’s attempted lob was pushed wide by the goalkeeper. 

As has become the habit in recent matches, the lads then found themselves leaking another goal in the 40th minute, against the run of play. Losing the ball in midfield started the problems and this was followed by a reckless challenge on the edge of the box. From the resulting free kick the Brook House  left back smashed an unstoppable shot in to the top left hand corner of Woods’ net. Bill the Fish had no chance, but Northwood were left wondering if the wall had been constructed properly.

The half time talk centred on the need to keep playing football, to be alert at the back, and to look to get the ball forward to the strikers a little quicker.

The second half started off as badly as the first, and within a minute Woods conceded a penalty. The decision looked more than a little harsh, but the move started because the visitors failed to switch on from the kick off. The penalty was netted, and Northwood faced a mountain to climb at 1-3 down.

The boys looked a bit shell-shocked, but to their credit they rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in to the match, and although not looking altogether fluent, Woods did start to exert increasing levels of pressure.

Woods clawed their way back in to the game on the 55th minute when a speculative cross from the left wing by Chris White floated in to the net past a despairing keeper. Northwood now had their tails up and in a crazy five-minute period Shane O’Neill hit the bar with a lob, Mickele Thomas got to the rebound and hit the post and then following up, Toby Bryan had his shot cleared off the line.  A couple of minutes later and a Shane O’Neill pile-driver once more came agonisingly back off the post.

Woods then made a double substitution, with Adam Gill coming in to defence and Feye Obileye slotting into midfield to add a little more power to the side. Mickele Thomas and Toby Bryan were the players that made way and Chris White pushed up alongside Trout to add extra pace to the attack. Woods were now well on top and the inevitable equaliser came in the 72nd minute, when another neat move ended with Shane O’Neill striking home from the edge of the box. Two minutes later and the boys took the lead when a long searching through ball from Luke Lynam was seized upon by Ben Trout, who once more finished neatly.

At that stage there was only going to be one winner but somehow Brook House  got an equaliser in the 80th minute, albeit from a blatantly offside goal. However, Woods lifted themselves once again and, driven on by the peerless Terry Hogan and the power of O’Neill and Obileye in midfield, they again started to dominate. Just reward came in stoppage time when a cross come shot from Obileye flew in to the net. The lads celebrated!!!!

This was not the greatest of performances, but a thrilling result which should help improve confidence. Captain for the night Shane O’Neill deserved the overall plaudit as man of the match.