Northwood 0 Metropolitan Police 2
BEFORE the draw was made back in early July, both sides would have been hoping for an "easier" opening fixture in this season's FA Cup campaign.
However, fate decreed that two of the highest-ranked sides in the competition at the Preliminary Round stage would meet and one would have no opportunity of picking up the valuable prize money that goes to the successful club.
The £1,500 on offer to the winners of this tie would have gone a long way to easing the financial pressures that the Woods have carried around for the past few years, especially with the current lack of a major sponsor, but it was not to be.
Manager Colin Payne had almost a full squad to choose from so there was no excuses while the Police were without skipper Steve Sutherland, central midfielder James Greenaway and striker Scott Forrester on a rare warm and sunny afternoon.
It was the Woods who made the early running and there was just two minutes on the clock when Michael Gordon found Sean Sonner in the box and his shot on the turn forced goalkeeper Mo Maan into a near post save.
More pressure followed and a good move saw Danny Murphy latch onto a defence-splitting pass from John Christian and whip in a cross. Terry Davies flicked it goalwards but without the power to beat Maan.
The Police had made an unbeaten start to their season in Division One South of the Ryman League though and they gradually worked their way into the game.
A deep cross saw Saheed Sankoh flick a header over the bar and then a cross from Rob George found Steve Sargent whose volley brought a good stop from Mitch Swain in the Northwood goal.
There was a worrying sign after 29 minutes when a defensive slip allowed George a clear run on goal but again Swain was out swiftly to block his shot.
The Woods seemed to be stuck in second gear as the half progressed and the Mets got their noses in front with the crucial opening goal just two minutes from half-time.
A poor pass in midfield saw the visitors break quickly and Sankoh held the ball up awaiting support.
That arrived from George whohad got ahead of both Ryan Tackley and Murphy and he knocked the ball across Swain and into the far corner for a soft goal.
Tackley was rather harshly axed at half-time for his role in conceding the goal with Murphy dropping back to defence and 17-year-old Aryan Taj coming on on the left of midfield.
Again, the Woods started the half well with Gordon racing past two defenders and into the box only for his cross to be cut out by Maan who had gambled by racing out wide of his goal.
After 53 minutes Sonner played Terry Davies into the box but his first-time snapshot only found the side-netting. Two minutes later Dwain Williams let fly with a 30-yard strike which beat the diving Maan but skimmed the crossbar and on 57 minutes Davies tested Maan further with a good shot on the turn which Maan had to tip over the bar.
That was as good as it got though for the Woods had they appeared to run out of ideas in the final half-hour.
When Richard Orlu got forwardto combine with Davies and set up Taj for a shot on 74 minutes, the crowd waited for the net to bulge but his effort drifted wide while the Mets seemed happy to soak up any pressure and looked comfortable in doing so.
Substitute Carl Hunt recorded the final effort on goal for Northwood after 84 minutes when he got his head to a deep Murphy cross but Maan dealt with it comfortably.
The visitors wrapped up their place in the next round with a second goal on 88 minutes, scored by substitute Jo Arrabeli from close range after he turned Matt Plaskett, who had been left isolated at the back.
NORTHWOOD: Swain, Plaskett (Yoki), Tackley (Taj), Orlu, Hewitt, Christian, Gordon, Dwain Williams, Sonner, Davies (Hunt), Murphy. Subs not used: Pearce, Dwane, Williams, Brown, Cowen.