Ryman Football League DIVISION ONE NORTH Northwood 2 Maldon Town 0
Two late goals kept Northwood's promotion drive on track as the hosts survived the worst 60 minutes of Dave Anderson's spell in charge and possibly of the season, to see off lowly Maldon Town.
Town produced a dogged display to frustrate the Woods and create the better chances, at least in the first half against a side that failed to string even a few passes together until the final quarter, only to crumble within sight of a draw.
Stand-in striker Solomon Henry got both goals, showing a real eye for goal for the first before new signing Gary Burrell laid the second on a plate.
"I thought we were fortunate to win the game," admitted Anderson. "For an hour we were as poor as we've been.
"It was ever such a struggle but good sides can win games when they're not playing well.
"I think the two goals were excellent and Gary Burrell has staked his claim really quickly.
"The two goals graced a game that didn't really deserve them."
Woods fans had to wait half an hour before Anthony Page gave them anything resembling excitement and it was only once Anderson pushed Peacock up front for the final 20 minutes, having seen the diminutive Kyle Matthews and Henry get no service on the ground, that Northwood began to look at all dangerous.
Mark Burgess swung in a cross from which Page did well to loop a header on target as he pulled away from goal but David McCartney tipped it over and after Henry squandered one fine break with a near post shot instead of a cross, his opportunism and cool head broke the deadlock.
Peacock flicked a ball on, Maldon's Aiden Collins seemed to get it stuck under his feet and Henry nicked it away, raced clear and the low finish for his first goal for the club was unerring.
The visiting bench was incensed by the lack of an offside flag although it looked more like Henry might have clipped the defender's ankle as he ferreted for the ball, but maybe the lack of a complaint from Collins spoke volumes.
That 87th minute effort should have been enough yet Northwood almost handed back two points when Joe Collins broke into the box but he rode a mis-timed challenge rather than give the referee a decision to make.
And a minute into stoppage time the Woods sealed victory.
Ryan Tackley played fellow substitute Burrell down the left and an error by the Maldon right-back gave him the chance to reach the by-line and he delivered a square pass that Henry could not fail to convert.
It was an unlikely finish to a game that had seen Northwood utterly fail to get their passing going on a pitch that admit-tedly did not help.
Nor did they help themselves by trying to play right from the back, allowing the visitors to press high up the pitch and although right-back Lee Holland was the worst culprit with a succession of potentially critical mistakes, he was not the only one.
Maldon's Dan Johnson had a couple of sights of goal and Jerome Ingram drilled wide in a game of few chances but there would have been more had it not been for another towering performance from Brad Hewitt.
The Woods played four at the back but it might as well have been one as Hewitt got a toe to anything on the deck and his head to everything that came in the air, so much so that a Maldon player was heard to plead "Try and keep it away from the tree!"
On the first spring-like day of the year the Woods played like they were still hibernating but the manager woke them up at half-time, replacing Holland with Tackley and sending on Burrell,who almost marked his debut with a goal from his first touch.
Page and Matthews combined on the right and the latter's cross would have given Burrell, a 24-year-old former Wealdstone left-winger signed from Tilbury, a tap in, but for a late interception.
Northwood no longer looked like they might lose but they only looked like they might win once Peacock was pushed forward and ultimately it was his presence, coupled with Henry's presence of mind, that broke Maldon's resistance.
"I thought in the first half he suffered because Solomon and Kyle didn't really have the service," added Anderson. "We gambled and put Michael Peacock up front.
"The one thing we didn't do was sit and try and draw the game, we made changes and tried to win it.
"What's the saying? "Fortune favours the brave."
NORTHWOOD: Swain, Power, Holland (Tackley 46), Burgess, Peacock, Hewitt, Christian, Page, Henry, Matthews (Brown 70), Figueiredo (Burrell 46). Subs not used: Dean, Hilaire. Goals, Woods: Henry 87, 90+1. Maldon: None. Attendance: 141.
* Michael Gordon seems likely to have played his last game for North-wood but the winger who has attracted interest from Grays Athletic and Hitchin Town, could be set for a move to Croydon Athletic after they asked for permission to speak to him.