Ware 2 Northwood 0
How the home side saw it. The following report appears on the Northwood website.
Northwood’s poor run of League form continued as they slipped to a two-goal defeat in this midweek trip to Ware and fell to eleventh place in the table they led after the first two weeks of the season. Manager Mark Burgess was back from his wedding celebrations to take charge of the trip and had virtually a full squad to choose from, and the game started at a fast and frenetic pace from the start.
The home side were on a good run of form after a slow start to their first season in the division following their transfer from Ryman North and gave notice of their intentions after just two minutes as a long ball from Murat Karagul released Kieran Bishop’s pace. Thankfully Steve Brown got across to get a block on his shot and the ball stood up for Berkley Laurencin to grab it safely. A few minutes later Laurencin almost gifted Ware a great chance when an attempted quick throw went straight to former AFC Wimbledon youth Josh Oyibo and it needed some swift defending to block his shot at goal too.
A minute later and the Woods got their first sniff at goal as Michael Murray played a great ball through that released Joakim Ehui but a lack of a direct approach wasted the opportunity as the wide man jinked back on himself rather than going for goal. On ten minutes, a free-kick allowed Murray to angle the ball towards the far post and when Brown dummied it, his strike seemed destined for the far corner but goalkeeper Jack Smith just got across to push it wide. Ware conceded a series of free-kicks which gave the Woods further opportunities. After 14 minutes a Murray ball was half-cleared but Ehui managed a clean strike on the half-volley and Smith had to make a good save to keep it out. Then another flashed across the face of the goal with a corner conceded.
The home side were next to go close from a corner of their own as the ball was hacked off the line by Andy Lomas who was then flattened by Oyibo, who was yellow-carded. James Burgess and Ware skipper Ryan Maxwell were also booked in the short-lived fracas that followed. It really was end-to-end stuff with the Woods shading possession, but Ware certainly looking more dangerous in front of goal. On 25 minutes a long, crossfield pass freed Khale Dacosta for a run on goal and he cut in to get a shot on target but Laurencin was down to save well.
Northwood battled back again with Rob Hastings seeing a run and shot end with a deflection that allowed the ball to roll safely on to the keeper and then Ehui combined with Murray to get the latter into the box but he was crowded out and never managed to get a shot away. Laurencin was tested again when Bishop played a neat ball on to Paul Cooper and his chip could have dropped in until the Woods’ stopper just managed to push his effort onto the bar and over.
There was still nothing in it but the pace of the home side was still stretching the Woods defence as Brown conceded a corner and then a deep free-kick from DaCosta had to be pushed over the bar again by Laurencin. On 39 minutes the Woods had probably their best chance to take the lead. A good move saw Ehui have a shot that was blocked but the ball ran loose and Louis Stead had a clear sight of goal only to fire straight at Smith who saved. But it was Ware that did take the lead just before the half-time break. It was another ball down the left that did the damage as Oyibo drew clear and his chip of Laurencin was accurate as it dropped into an empty net.
Two minutes after the restart, Murray played Stead into the area but his shot flashed across the goal and wide of the far post but any hopes of a sustained assault on the Ware goal were soon dashed as Ware got on top soon after.
Laurencin was again tested by a DaCosta effort and then an excellent four-man move led to Bishop firing home but it was ruled out by an offside flag. Northwood made two substitutions in quick succession, with Niko Muir and Max Holland introduced for Burgess and Hastings but there was no chance to see if the extra attacking flair was going to work before they were 2-0 down. It was a gifted goal this time with Brown’s short back-pass to Laurencin seemingly safe at first before a poor touch from the keeper and Bishop robbed him of the ball and tucked it home.
Skipper Brown limped off shortly after this, replaced by Perry Dicker, but there was no real sign of a comeback and a series of fouls and yellow cards made it a poor final twenty minutes of an otherwise entertaining game. It was only in the final stages that there was some more goalmouth action with a series of efforts from Muir, Murray, Holland and Ehui but none were accurate enough to threaten Smith in the Ware goal.
Ware: Jack Smith, Paul Cooper, Murat Karagul, Ryan Maxwell, Ben Crilley, Jack Fowler, Khale Dacosta (Michael Deane 83mins), Liam Griffin, Keiran Bishop (Alaa Oujdi 73mins), Josh Oyibo (Finbarr Robins 66mins), Rod Young. Unused subs: James Manlove, Mickey Clark.