May 8 2012 By Jon Batham
MIDDLESEX ‘HELP FOR HEROES’ CHARITY CUP FINAL
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 4
Ashford won 4-2 on penalties
NORTHWOOD’s season ended in bitter disappointment as the Middlesex Charity cup was wrenched from their grasp by the whirlwind that was Kofi Lockhart-Adams last night.
Woods boss Gary Meakin will probably need the whole summer to work out how his men lost a final in which they were 3-0 up and cruising until just before the hour only to be blown away by the Tangerines’ 19-year-old wonder-kid, who came on at half-time to transform the game with a four-goal salvo barely believable even to those who witnessed it.
Even then Woods hit back to force penalties, but Jack Hutchinson and Romaine Walker saw their spot-kicks saved by Paul McCarthy as Ashford snatched victory.
For Meakin and co, who only missed out on the Southern League Central playoffs on the final day of the season it meant another near miss at the end of a campaign of so much promise.
Such drama appeared a world away in a first half completely dominated by the men of Chestnut Avenue.
Skipper Lee Grant’s glancing header from the excellent Wayne O’Sullivan’s free-kick gave them the lead on the quarter hour and only a last-ditch tackle by Jack Mullan on Oliver Hawkin prevented a second goal minutes later.
Ashford created little though they had claims for a penalty waved away seven minutes from the break when Mark Bitmead’s free-kick appeared to hit the elbow of one of the defensive wall.
To rub salt in the wounds just 60 seconds later O’Sullivan’s ball up the inside right channel found Hawkins, who lofted over the advancing McCarthy to double the lead.
Spencer Belotti came close to a third with a lob onto the roof of the net before the break and Northwood looked to have the trophy in their pockets when they scored again three minutes after the restart.
The goal owed everything to the wizardry of O’Sullivan as he danced his way into the box before sliding the ball across for Hawkins to tap in his second of the night.
McCarthy denied Walker a fourth on 56 minutes, parrying the winger’s drive behind for a corner and Lockhart Adams’ scrambled effort on 59 looked a mere consolation.
However, eyebrows began to be raised when the powerhouse of a striker cut the deficit further on 73 minutes, rolling his marker and advancing before hitting an unstoppable shot beyond the reach of woods’ keeper Mitch Swain.
Nevertheless the Ashford revival should have been snuffed out by Northwood substitute Gary Senior just moments later, but given a clear sight of goal he scuffed his shot and a combination of Russell Canderton and Mullan scrambled the ball off the line.
Woods paid the penalty for the missed chance when with 11 minutes left Dan Brown broke down the right and when he crossed there was Lockhart-Adams to apply the finishing touch, complete his hat-trick and level matters.
With Northwood on the ropes Brown crashed another shot against the post and Lockhart-Adams looked to have completed the mother of all comebacks when he stabbed home Samad Kazi’s lofted pass five minutes from time.
Even then the drama wasn’t finished as two minutes later we were level again when McCarthy could only parry Senior’s shot and Walker pounced on the rebound to make it 4-4 and send us to penalties.
Here, McCarthy took on hero’s duties with the two saves that mattered to Woods’ hearts broken for the second time in little more than a week.