Nov 5 2009 By Robin Piper
F.A. Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round Reply Evesham United 1 Northwood 2
Northwood’s midweek trip to Worcester proved a fruitful journey as they came away with the win to move into the final qualifying round of the competition.
Wood’s went into the game missing the injured Kyle Matthew’s whilst the unfit Mitch Swain made way for Aaron Bufton in the Northwood goal. Anton Lewis was given his full debut in attack while Sam Sharples was drafted into the midfield.
Woods were quickly into their stride, showing no effects of the long journey and worked themselves into some good positions in the early stages. Scott Orphanou had the first shot on goal as Nathan Vaughan was forced to save at the foot of the post after good work from Lewis.
It was clear from early on that Evesham’s attacking ambitions would centre on the lively Danny Lennon latching onto ‘keeper Vaughan’s long clearances and Bufton was called upon to deal with a couple of shots from the Robins’ livewire striker.
The Robins’ skipper Steve Luckett was a fortunate man after the match officials missed an off the ball incident involving John Christian and the referee increased Northwood frustrations by showing Brad Hewitt a yellow card following an accidental collision with an Evesham player.
Woods were spurred into a renewed effort and they deservedly took the lead on the half-hour as Michael Peacock timed his run to perfection to meet Gary Burrell’s corner and send an unstoppable header past the motionless Vaughan.
Evesham had a chance to equalise through Lennon after he was picked out by Simon Fitter’s free-kick into the Northwood box but the Robins’ front-man volleyed wildly over the crossbar. At the other end, Peacock found himself in the Evesham box once again as he flicked a header wide from Burrell’s free-kick.
Bufton, who was looking increasingly assured, was the busy of the ‘keepers as the clock ticked towards half-time and the Woods’ stopper saved comfortably from Lennon before he got an accidental kick in the face as he claimed the ball at the second attempt following Fitter’s stinging volley.
Woods immediately threatened after the restart with Hewitt going close on a couple of occasions after a series of Chris Seeby free-kicks caused concern in the Evesham defence whilst Peacock was not far away from adding a second goal as he shot narrowly wide.
Northwood continued to seek the goal which would kill off the tie, Orphanou and Burrell sending shots wide of the target. However, the hosts gradually pinned Northwood back in their own half with their direct approach and the pressure increased on Woods as Evesham were awarded series of free-kicks in dangerous positions but Jermaine Clrake and substitute Justin Rowe were unable to capitalise.
Hugo Figueiredo was introduced for Lewis on 62 minutes as Northwood maintained their momentum but Bufton pulled off another good save as he clawed out a goal-bound effort before Rowe shot wide once more.
Orphanou made way for Harry Smart on 76 minutes as Northwood looked to capitalise on the spaces being left in the Evesham half. And Woods did just that on 81 minutes as they launched a swift counter-attack with Figueiredo running down the right flank before delivering a perfectly weighted ball which was met by Burrell who picked his spot for his fourth goal of the season.
Evesham refused to throw in the towel as they launched an aerial attack on the Northwood goal. And the hosts ensured a nervous finish for Woods as they pulled a goal back on 88 minutes through the unlikely form of ‘keeper Vaughan who had come up for a free-kick.
The Robins kept up the pressure but the Northwood rearguard was up to the test.
Figueirido left the field on 88 minutes with an ankle injury, Aaron Cato his replacement as Evesham grew more desperate for the equaliser.
But it wasn’t to be for the hosts as Northwood deservedly hung on for the win to move through to the next round where they will welcome Conference South Basingstoke Town to Chestnut Avenue.