Anthony Ladyman
Nicky Pearce 2
Luke Lynam 3
Terry Hogan 4
David Sexton 5
Stuart Onslow 6
Ryan Duffy 7
Shane O'Neill 8
Ben Trout 9
Chris White 10
Jack Bennett 11
Adam Gill (6) 12
Mikkel Thomas (7) 14
Feye Obileye (11) 15
Toby Ryan 16

Five weeks after last kicking a ball in anger Northwood again fought back from a two-goal deficit to beat Wingate & Finchley and secure their place in the semi final of the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup.

The evening started well with only a couple of late withdrawals, which meant Northwood entered the game with a strong line up. Captain David Sexton made a welcome return to the side, having completed a lengthy ban.

However, rustiness showed during the first fifteen minutes and Northwood got off to their now traditional poor start. A slight lack of concentration at the back, compounded by what appeared to be a clear offside, saw the Wingate centre forward enter the box unopposed and lash the ball past goalkeeper Anthony Ladyman. 

To the credit of the lads, they didn’t let this reverse affect them unduly and steadily but surely started to take control of the match. A minute after conceding, Ryan Duffy placed a fabulous through pass in to the path of Chris White who just failed to get hold of his shot, and the goalkeeper made an easy save down at his feet. 

At this stage Stuart Onslow and Shane O’Neill were driving forward from midfield and the striking pair of Chris White and Ben Trout were showing great movement whilst finding lots of space to stretch the opposition defence.

The great frustration was that all this possession and bright play brought no tangible reward. On 25 minutes a well struck Shane O’Neill free kick was saved down at his right hand post by the keeper and ten minutes later a wonderful curling effort from Chris White was agonisingly pushed round the post by a very competent looking keeper. Even more frustratingly, nine minutes later an exquisite flick from Ben Trout released Chris White for what looked like a routine finish, but unfortunately Chris lost balance at the crucial moment and the ball was scrambled clear. One minute later and another driving run by Ben Trout through the right channel ended with a quality cross. Jack Bennett was unlucky when the keeper saved his well struck side-foot volley, so the half time whistle went and Northwood were still behind.

The second half started a bit scrappily and then disaster struck after 55 minutes. The half time team talk was forgotten and in an instant Northwood were undone by a routine ball over the top, and a man running from deep strolled through to make it 2-0 to Wingate. 

The Northwood management team responded immediately sending on Feye Obileye for Ryan Duffy and Mickele Thomas for Jack Bennett. Thomas pushed on to join Ben Trout in attack, Shane O’Neill went to the right flank and Obileye dropped in to anchor the midfield.   

The lads responded well and with the defence now getting collectively organised around the dominant David Sexton and Terry Hogan, they established a base for launching attack after attack. The pressure finally paid off on 75 minutes when a lovely run and through ball from Luke Lynham was met by the advancing Stuart Onslow. Onslow finished gloriously in to the corner of the net. Northwood were now well on top and on 78 minutes Ben Trout produced a champagne moment when he swivelled out on the left hand touchline, moved inside and launched a stunning drive from 25 yards. The ball thudded against the bar and was scrambled away for a corner by a very relieved defence. However, the relief was short lived, when from the resulting corner the ball was bundled in to the net by the forceful Shane O’Neill. Eight minutes later and another pacey attack saw Nicky Pearce release Mickele Thomas in the box and the striker finished coolly: 3-2 up and the semi final was beckoning. 

The game was put beyond doubt on 89 minutes when another sweeping move ended with Thomas playing Stuart Onslow through for another fine finish. Adam Gill came on for the last few minutes in place of Onslow as Northwood ran down the clock.

Given the amount of time since the lads last played, the final analysis has to be that this was a high quality performance. Going forward the football was very exciting to watch. Defensively, the team learned a few more lessons and will be all the better for that. It was really pleasing to see the lads improve as they worked hard to iron out their collective wrinkles. Stuart Onslow and Shane O’Neill were very dominant in midfield and Ben Trout put in a quality display leading the attack. Chris White looked back to his very best, and once more the introduction of Feye Obileye made a real difference. The lads now re-group before a second round league cup match at home to Marlow this coming Monday.