Anthony Ladyman
Nicky Pearce 2
Luke Lynam 3
Terry Hogan 4
David Sexton 5
Feye Obileye 6
Toby Bryan 7
Stuart Onslow 8
Ben Trout 9
Mikkel Thomas 10
Chris White 11
Jack Bennett (11) 12
Ryan Duffy (7) 14
Bill Fishenden (1) 15

Despite having several absentees, the Woods’ Allied Counties side put on a brave, battling performance at Thatcham last Wednesday, and chalked up their third successive away win. Quality football was in short supply but guts, determination and a refusal to give an inch got the boys home.

The pitch was not the best and looked like it was suffering from a bit of over use, and the opposition probably shaded the first fifteen minutes. Northwood finally got on the move after 16 minutes when a neat turn and pass on the edge of the box by Ben Trout released Chris White, who lobbed the ball just over the bar. Four minutes later saw the best move of the game, when a beautiful flowing attack saw the ball move from one side of the pitch to the other through Thomas, Trout, Obileye and Onslow, finally arriving at the feet of Toby Bryan, who was free inside the box on the right hand side: Bryan chipped in a delightful ball which the forwards couldn’t quite reach. Two minutes later and a similar move, from left to right, released Nicky Pearce in space and his shot from 25 yards out whistled past the left hand post.

Thatcham then reminded the visitors that they were certainly no mugs when a smart header from a corner narrowly flashed over the bar. But Woods went straight back up the other end and a Trout cross was met by a smart snap shot from Stuart Onslow, which again sailed wide.

After that it became rather attritional but Obileye and Onslow were just starting to get the upper hand in the middle of the park. Indeed it was from a fantastic tackle by the former, just outside the opposition box, that the first goal came. The ball broke to Trout who swiftly fed the advancing Onslow, who smashed a wonderful drive from 25 yards, which the keeper couldn’t hold and the ball slipped over the line to give Woods the lead.

The second half started quietly and although Woods weren’t under any pressure they were struggling to pick up where they left off in the first half, but they did make the first significant chance of the second period, when Bryan advanced on the keeper and hit a stinging drive which the keeper did very well to push round the post. 

It probably wasn’t a surprise when Thatcham’s equalising goal came on 70 minutes and it was a cracker, the home side’s right sided midfielder hammering in an unstoppable shot from the right hand side of the box straight in the corner of the net.

In the 76th minute substitute Ryan Duffy played a delightful ball down the line for Mickele Thomas to run on to, and he checked, turned back inside and hit a left footed cross to the edge of the box. This was met on the volley by Jack Bennett’s right foot and the ball went through the keeper, and Woods were ahead once more

Northwood could have extended their lead in the last minute when Bennett was played through again but his shot trickled agonisingly past the post.

Bill the Fish came on for goalkeeper Anthony Ladyman to see out the last 10 minutes.  Ladyman had not had much to do in terms of shot stopping, during the game, but he certainly dealt with crosses competently all night long.  Bill came on as reward for his commitment. Travelling as sub goal keeper to Thatcham midweek shows the sort of lad Bill is…a great gesture which the management really appreciate.  The team value Bill highly and it is no surprise he has turned out several times for the first team since Christmas.

So the lads won, not great football, but they won ugly and that is important when you are not at your strongest. The defence is making great strides forward and the last two games have witnessed a vast improvement, and in particular concentration levels are far better now.  

Next up is a great game for the lads, the Middlesex County Youth Cup semi final versus Staines Town on Monday 12 February. A big crowd to watch that one would be great, and the lads deserve it.

Also at this point in the season it is important we acknowledge the fact that Allied’s players Bill the Fish, Terry Hogan, David Sexton, Elliott Buchanan, Jack Bennett and Nicky Pearce have all been in the first team this year.  Not a bad contribution from the boys…well done lads. The club has some real gems coming through.