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Northwood 2  Berkhamsted 2 (5-6 pens.)

Saturday 30th October 2021

 

NORTHWOOD
     
     
   
1 Daniel Purdue    
2 Adam Cash ©    
3 Giovanni Palmer    
4 Tecane Shrowder    
5 Arnold Linturn    
6 Ryan Avery    
7 Joakim Ehui (88m)    
8 Matt Ayres (99m)    
9 Melos Ajvazi (96m)    
10 Leo Decabo    
11 Ismael Ehui    
Substitutes  
12 Sam Coles (88m)    
14 Matteo Esposito (96m)    
15 Matt Surmon    
16 James Gurteen    
17 Pablo Velasco    
18 Aaron Petch (99m)    
19 Montel Joseph    
 


Berkhamsted: Xavi Comas Leon, Robbie Goodman, Mo Bangura, Charlie Briggs, Ryan Kinnane, Max Farrelly, James Verney , Lucas Kirkpatrick , Jake Tabor (Lewis Toomey 55m), Phil Draycott (Adiel Mannion 84m)

   

Northwood’s penalty shoot-out luck deserted them as they exited the F.A. Trophy at the third qualifying round stage after twice being pegged back in the 90 minutes by Southern Division One Central table toppers Berkhamsted. After successfully overcoming Uxbridge on penalties to progress in the Middlesex Senior Cup in midweek and having beaten Haywards Heath in similar fashion in the last round of the Trophy, it was former goalkeeper Xavi Comas Leon who prevented Woods from making it a hat-trick of wins as he saved twice in the shoot-out.

Northwood took the field without the services of top scorer Shakeel Morris following his midweek departure to league rivals Tooting and Mitcham with Ismael Ehui returning to start in attack for the first time with Melos Ajvazi. There was also a welcome return for Matt Ayres who was joined in the midfield by 18-year-old Tecane Shrowder on a month’s loan from Wealdstone, Declan Nche missing out through illness while CJ Fearn was unavailable.

After Berkhamsted had failed to take advantage of the first opportunity of the afternoon as Lucas Kirkpatrick shot wide when well placed, Woods put their noses in front on 14 minutes following a sweeping move which was capped by a fine strike from outside the box by skipper Adam Cash.

The Comrades responded by going close through Jake Tabor but they made no mistake as James Verney headed home a near post corner to restore parity in the 20th minute.

Both sides continued to see a fair share of the ball but without creating clear cut opportunities. But with half-time fast approaching, Giovanni Palmer played a neat one-two with Leo Decabo before dragging his shot wide of the far post. However, Woods were immediately back on the offensive as Ayres released Decabo whose low cross from the right was swept home by Ismael Ehui to restore the host’s lead on 43 minutes.

But there was a scare for Northwood as they conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position in added time at the end of an entertaining first-half, Verney seeing his effort rebound off the crossbar.

Berkhamsted were the first to threaten after the restart with Kirkpatrick’s close-range shot being cleared by the Woods defence while at the other end, Joakim Ehui tried his luck with from 30-yards with a shot that flew narrowly over.

Photos by JAMES BROWN

Chances continued to be created at both ends with Ryan Kinnane heading wide for the visitors while Palmer made a surging run down Northwood’s left flank before his near post shot was kept out by the Berkhamsted rear-guard. Play continued to swing from end to end and it was the Comrades’ Phil Draycott who wasn’t far away with a volleyed attempt from the edge of the box which narrowly cleared the Northwood crossbar.

However, the contest erupted into controversy after Berkhamsted were awarded a questionable penalty as the impressive Ryan Avery tangled with Verney and after the referee took instruction from one of his assistants, pointed to the spot; Kirkpatrick making no mistake from 12 yards to bring the visitors back into the game on 73 minutes.

Northwood were rattled by the setback as Berkhamsted looked to make the most of their good fortune with substitute Connor Toomey twice going close to putting his side ahead. Woods stood strong and regrouped with Decabo testing Leon with a long-range shot which the keeper could only parry, the rebound just evading the on-rushing Ajvazi.

But Berkhamsted kept up the pressure and keeper Daniel Purdue was called into action as he produced a smart save to keep out Verney’s shot on the turn from inside the box.

Joakim Ehui made way for Sam Coles as Woods looked for the deciding goal with Ayres having a shot deflected behind before sending a long-range attempt wide of the target.

Much to the bemusement of the crowd, the referee signalled there was to be ten minutes of added time and Northwood went closest to scoring the winner as Palmer raced onto a Coles through-ball, but his shot deflected wide before Decabo almost got round the back of the visitors defence following a short corner routine.
Substitutes Matteo Esposito and Aaron Petch were introduced for Northwood for the closing minutes with penalties in mind, Ajvazi and Ayres standing down.

So, it was onto the drama of another shoot-out at the Fenton Civil Engineering Stadium and after Purdue had kept out the opening penalty from Kirkpatrick, things were looking good for Northwood as the next four attempts from both sides were converted. However, the unfortunate Petch was denied by Leon as he looked to win the tie with his team’s fifth penalty; the Berkhamsted stopper pulling off another save in the sudden death to deny Arnold Linturn and to put the Comrades in the hat for the next round.

Report by ROBIN PIPER