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Thursday 12th May 1977

Northwood  claimed their first league championship honours since 1971 when they fought out a draw with Rayners Lane. But the point lost could finish their slender hopes of the actual Middlesex League title.

A combination of poor ground conditions and some dubious decisions robbed Northwood of the win they deserved, but to their credit Rayners Lane always fought and harried for every ball.

Northwood always produced the more controlled football, and they looked set for an early goal bonanza when both Cooper and Tidd almost scored with ferocious drives that Pickard did well to save.

Cooper showed tremendous control in tight situations and Ellis, known as Merlin for conjuring goals out of nothing, looked at his best again, while Livingstone showed no ill-effects from his honeymoon.

Luck went against Northwood when Merison cleared only for the ball to strike a Lane forward and rebound to a team-mate clearly five yards offside. Despite the linesman's flag the player was allowed to go on and score.

This shook Northwood, and they were thankful to see Cooper slide home the equaliser after Ellis had struck the underside of the bar with a fine header from Harvey's free kick.

Rayners Lane took the lead again when the referee adjudged the ball over the line from some 40 yards away, while the linesman up with play was not convinced.

Nevertheless, Northwood bounced back. Ellisfought its way into the box and hammered in a brilliant effort that brought a flying save from Pickard, and almost before the keeper had hit the floor the diminutive striker crashed the rebound home.

The game was now end to end, and Northwood's finesse was being matched slog for slog by the visitors. When Ellis struck yet again it looked as though the Woods were on their way to victory

The final score carne from Rayners Lane, and although it deprived the Woods of a point and a slim chance of the title, Northwood had .secured enough to gain runners-up in the Middlesex League.  

Northwood: Currell, Heslop, Harman, Gould, O’Donnell, Merison, Tidd, Harvey, Livingstone, Ellis, Cooper. Sub. Manley.