Northwood Res. 1  Walton Casuals Res. 1

Thursday 11th April 2013


Premier B Division
Northwood Park
Team line-up


1 Garry Malone
2 Theo Hunte
3 James Fraser
4 Adam Zaberosa
5 Corey Ellis
6 Jarrad Engelbrecht
7 Ken Obeng
8 Lewis Davis
9 Michael Dixon (75m)
10 Adam El Haddad  
11 Reon Thomas (62m)  
12 Matt Cooper (62m)  
14 Hisham El Haddad (75m)  
15 Fraser Robbins  
16 Sofian Taghi  
17 Alex Ishola  

Unbeaten top of the league Walton Casuals arrived at Northwood Park and were lucky not to lose their first game of the season against a spirited, hard-working and determined Northwood side. Unlike in recent games, Northwood started well and were the better team in the opening ten minutes with Reon Thomas going close to opening the scoring with a shot from inside the box on two minutes that went just wide of the post. Walton’s first real chance courtesy of a route-one long ball over the top of the Woods defence which was cleared easily by Garry Malone in the eighth minute. Two minutes later Adam El Haddad latched on to a poor clearance from the Casuals keeper, but was fouled before he could shoot just outside the box. El Haddad took the subsequent free kick and forced the keeper to make a parried save; unfortunately none of the Northwood frontline could react in time and finish the rebound as it bobbled around the six yard area.

Midway through the first half another route-one ball from Walton got stuck in the only puddle on the pitch, located just outside the Woods box, and resulted in a coming together of Malone and the Casuals striker who were both going for the ball. The striker bounced off Malone and fell to the floor winning a controversial free kick just outside the Northwood penalty area. The Casuals free kick hit the wall, and from the counter attack El Haddad picked up the ball just inside the Casuals half and ran twenty five yards before shooting just wide of the goal. Three minutes later James Fraser also saw his shot sail just wide of the Casuals goal.

Walton were becoming increasingly frustrated as the game went on with their own inability to break down a resolute Northwood defence and midfield. Just as in the first meeting back in early January every decision was met with a constant barrage of whinging and remonstration to the match officials from almost every Casuals player as well as their Manager, Coach, subs and travelling support. This constant moaning seems to be an unsavoury tactic used by Walton to try to influence the game.

Twenty nine minutes into the game a really nasty tackle by one of the Walton defenders on El Haddad just outside the box resulted in a free kick. El Haddad picked himself up and whipped in a tantalising cross to the far post; Thomas rose above the Walton defence but could only manage to direct his effort straight into the keepers hands. Walton responded with a quick counter attack down the left wing that found their striker heading towards goal after beating two Northwood defenders on the touchline. He then cut back towards the six yard box and fired a low shot that was well saved by Malone at his near post for a corner. The corner was hit with real in-swinging pace and Northwood were lucky not to concede when it dipped and hit the bar and went behind for a goal kick.

Four minutes later Malone was called into action again to save a long range shot from just outside the woods penalty area. Walton were really piling on the pressure during this period of the game and the Northwood defence had to dig deep to negate the Casuals strike force. Northwood bounced back and were unlucky not to open the scoring on thirty seven and thirty nine minutes with two good efforts from Fraser and Lewis Davies. The game was now end to end with both sides attacking and counter attacking at pace. Northwood’s goal was coming under constant attack in the dying minutes of the first half; but thanks to an excellent last ditch tackle by Corey Ellis in the forty fourth minute and another brave save by Malone in the final minute diving out towards the penalty spot to meet a cross that look certain to find a Casuals striker, the Woods headed in at half time all level.

Northwood started the slower of the two teams in the second half and were punished in the 50th minute when the Woods defence failed to clear the ball from a corner and the subsequent melee in the six yard box ended with the ball being bundled over the line by a Walton player to take the lead. They could have scored two minutes later when another of the Casuals strikers dribbled through the Northwood back line, but was thwarted finally by a good save from Malone. This seemed to wake Northwood up, and they were unlucky not to equalise on fifty two minutes through a wonderful counter attack involving Michael Dixon who fed a nice pass into Davies on the right wing. Davies skipped past two defenders before firing a fantastic ball across the Casuals six yard box; unfortunately none of the Woods strikers could get to the ball in time and it went behind for a goal kick. Matt Cooper replaced Thomas in the sixty second minute as Northwood continued to press for an equaliser.

Woods survived another scare in the seventieth minute when a well struck corner was met by one of the Casuals strikers at the back post. Thankfully his powerful header hit the post and went out for a goal kick. Errol Dyer and Roger Linton sent on their second and final substitution in the 75th minute when they sent on Hisham El Haddad to replace Dixon. This change seemed to have the desired effect and Northwood took control of the game and started to pile on the pressure in search of a goal. When a Walton defender sliced his clearance in the eighty second minute Adam El Haddad picked up the ball just outside the box and with two players in support it looked certain Northwood would score. However, one touch too many and a great tackle from one of the Casuals defenders saw the ball go behind for a corner.

The subsequent inswinging corner troubled the Walton keeper and defence and when they failed to clear the ball;  Hisham El Haddad was able to scramble the ball over the line for a deserved equaliser in the eighty third minute – an inspired substitution from Dyer and Linton! The last final few minutes of the game saw both teams pushing for the winner. However, Northwood looked the more likely of the two sides to go on and win the game and nearly took the lead in the eighty seventh minute when a 40 yard free kick from Adam El Haddad beat the wall and almost crept in the corner when the Casuals keeper fumbled the shot but just managed to recover and push the ball behind for a corner.

Overall, this was a really good team performance with every player putting in a shift against a team sitting on top of the league. Northwood may feel they were unlucky not to take all three points on the night but can be satisfied with a well-earned point.