Match Preview: Isthmian South Central Division
Northwood Vs Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 11th March 2023 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Skyline Roofing Stadium, Chestnut Avenue, Northwood. HA6 1HR
Northwood (Nickname – The Woods), Avg 2022-23 Home Att 163
Admission Prices (Cash Only): Adults £10, Concessions £5 U16’s Free
Our thirteenth win in a row, was after an initial stalemate a comfortable 3-0 victory at Ashford. A superb passing move, set-up Ben Cook who scored his first of two goals on the day. Another neat bit of play minutes later, then set-up Simon Dunn, who notched his first goal of the season. The third goal, a defensive mix-up allowed Cook to add his second and Stoke’s third and final goal of the game.
This brings us to this Saturday’s tough match-up at Northwood, who back in October were able to defeat us by the only goal of the game.
The Woods are managed by Ben Bukowski back who took over in November 2021. Bukowski, has had previous coaching stints at Hendon and Hampton & Richmond.
After initially being the runaway league leaders, their fortunes changed when their star striker Sydney Ibie left for Dagenham & Redbridge just before christmas. After Tuesday’s goal-less draw at home to Binfield, they now sit in third place with a record of Pld 31 Won 18 Drawn 2 Lost 11 Pts 56. Their home record is of course fairly decent at Won 10 Drawn 2 Lost 4, but there concern is scoring goals, as since the turn of the year they have scored just twelve goals from twelve league games. This means their defence keeps them in games.
With Ibie gone, their leading goalscorer is now Josh Helmore who has eight goals, who moved to the Woods from divisional rivals Binfield FC in November 2021, having played for Reading City, Gloucester City, Thatcham Town and Bracknell Town. Juwon Akintunde has five goals since joining from Uxbridge last October. They also signed ex-Uxbridge & Hanwell Town striker Gareth Chendlik in December, as a replacement for Ibie, and he has added three goals. Forward Dan Williams joined the strikeforce last month from Uxbridge and has added two goals since joining.
Leading the midfield is Carl Stewart (25), who is a former Watford youth player, who joined from Beaconsfield Town, and has played for many other clubs including Italian Serie A side Udinese. Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway joined the Woods on a dual-registration basis from Southern Premier side Hendon in March 2022 but only played one game, however, he has now signed on permanently for the 2022/23 season, having played two seasons at Chalfont St Peter. At the end of last month, the Woods signed attacking midfielder Shane Cojocarel who has played at clubs such as Billericay Town, Met Police and Merstham, as well more recently Cheshunt & FC Romania. Osaretin Otote also joined the club last month and is a winger from Waltham Abbey. Ronan Hutchins is an 18 year-old attacking midfielder who joined from Hampton & Richmond Borough last summer. Teddy Stacey, (25), was a Tottenham youth player before joining from Hadley Fc. Micah Jackson is another attacking midfielder, who joined from Enfield Borough eighteen months ago.
James Gurteen (23), will lead the centre of defence and has three goals and was previously with the Woods in 2017, returned in October 2021 on dual-registration from Kings Langley, but signed on for the club at the start of this season. James Budden (30) is in his second spell at the club, having previously played for Hemel Hempstead, Aylesbury and Leverstock Green, he moved on to play Step Three for Hitchin Town and Potters Bar Town and now 30, brings plenty of experience to the Woods back-line. Andy Lomas is an experienced 32-year-old left-back who returned to the Woods in a Player-Coach role in November 2021. He has also played for Harrow Borough & Potters Bar. Luke Tingey is an experienced 25-year-old defender who joined the Woods in February 2022 from Isthmian Premier side Potters Bar Town. He started off at the MK Dons Youth Academy and then went on to notch almost 200 games at Step 3 for Hendon FC. He also had a short spell with St Albans City. Another left-back is Brandon Kalu, who moved to Northwood having played at Chalfont St Peter and Bedfont Sports in recent seasons. The 27-year-old received a straight red card at the Binfield match on Tuesday, but is still eligible tomorrow.
The keeper will be Andrew McCorkell, who previously played for the Woods in 2017, and has representative honours for Northern Ireland’s Under-19s, whilst at MK Dons. Other clubs he has played for include Hendon, Chesham United, Beaconsfield, Hayes & Yeading, and he joined from Bedfont Sports.
Our Basingstoke Town Side
The win at Ashford last Saturday’s extended our streak to thirteen, with an unexpected brace by midfielder Ben Cook and Simon Dunn’s first goal of the season, leaves us four points clear at the top of the table. Our league record now sits at an impressive Pld 31 Won 24 Drawn 2 Lost 5 and Pts 74.
Bradley Wilson still one goal short of a thirty-goal season, still leads the league’s scoring chart, but Walton’s Eddie Simon now sits just one behind on twenty-four as we head into ‘Super Saturday’. Alongwith with Wilson, George Reid, on sixteen goals have been creators in recent weeks, with Paul Hodges being the recipient, who has added five goals since joining last month. All three are certain to start tomorrow, and will look to open up a tight Northwood defence. Sam Argent has been an unused sub in the last two games, and unless things change will likely be one of the five players named on the bench. With Marcio Neves now plying his trade at Westfield, it leaves Brody Peart & Stefan Brown, as possible options also off the bench.
The midfield which has been adding goals in recent weeks, will be led by Simon Dunn, whilst Michael Atkinson’s fitness is uncertain, which leaves the new goal-hungry Ben Cook, who has added six goals as the new forward attacking midfielder, as the third midfielder. D’Andre Brown & James Clark are both pushing for starts but may likely be on the bench.
Our consecutive clean sheets reached three games after last weekend and our settled backline is part of the reason for this. The centre-back pairing of Scott Armsworth & Billy Upton have been superb this season, whilst Markus Johnson-Schuster on the right and Callum Winchcombe on the left are set in their roles. This leaves Stoke veteran Nathan Smart on the bench, whilst Ben Mason and if required Aiden Lewis & James Hayworth, as potential call-ups to the matchday squad.
With both keepers fit and ready to play, Paul Strudley has earned the starting role with his recent performances and will surely be wearing the No.1 shirt tomorrow afternoon.
Still unbeaten in 2023, and with just eight league games remaining we head to third placed Northwood, knowing that this is a key game. I am sure that like many Stoke fans who will be present at the game tomorrow, the club will be keeping an eye on the Walton – Chertsey match, and if things go as hoped, we can take another big step towards the league title.
Despite the poor weather this week, the game is expected to go ahead, so why not take a trip up the M3 and come and support your Basingstoke Town side tomorrow afternoon.
Match Preview by Martin French..