North Greenford 1
Northwood 3

MARK BURGESS will hit himself where it hurts in the wallet after putting Northwood’s first back to back league wins for four months in jeopardy at North Greenford last night.

Woods’ player-manager Burgess was sent off 10 minutes from time for a second bookable offence in what was a fractious, ill-tempered derby against one of his former clubs, leaving the visitors to defend a slender 2-1 lead a man short.

Substitute Romaine Walker’s stoppage-time clincher spared his boss further embarrassment.

However, Burgess admitted he could have cost his side three points and would pay the price.

He said: “I’ve got to fine myself. Straight away I told the boys it is not acceptable, I don’t expect it from anyone else and they should expect it from me least of all.

“North Greenford could quite easily have made it 2-2 with us under the cosh and we would have been struggling.

“If they had gone on to win it would have been down to me and as manager you can’t have that.

“As a manager you appreciate how important it is to have 11 players on the pitch so if anyone else gets sent off I’m straight on their case and I can’t be any different to that.”

Burgess’ men were second best early on when United’s David Taylor tested James Reading with a long range shot, before playing in Chris Drake who volleyed wastefully over when he should have scored.

The hosts survived a scare at the other end when a push on Oliver Hawkins right on the edge of the box went unpunished, but United’s early superiority looked set to reap reward when Drake was tripped at the other end on 19 minutes.

However, Liam Hind spurned the golden chance with a weak penalty comfortably saved by Reading.

Zak Joseph also warmed the hands of the Woods’ custodian before United paid for their failure to turn early pressure into goals as Northwood stole in front on 32 minutes.
Nico Muir’s pass sent Oliver Hawkins racing clear and the gangly front-man kept his composure to slip the ball beyond Andy Caesar.

Adil Salih might have made it 2-0 with a header tipped over by the United keeper, but was fortunate to escape punishment for his part in a spat with United’s Danny Bennell down by the dugouts.

North Greenford emerged with purpose after the break and Dan Carter had already fired across the goal and wide by the time they levelled on 52 minutes.

A free-kick from the right was never properly cleared and when the ball fell to Joseph on the edge of the box, his shot deflected off a defender leaving Reading stranded.

Parity though lasted just four minutes before Muir latched onto a long ball forward before shrugging off his defender and shooting through the legs of Caesar.

Hawkins was close to a third with a header tipped over by Caesar, but then Burgess, already booked saw red for a trip right on the edge of the box. Referee Dave Sheldrake initially pointed to the spot, but changed his decision to a free-kick after consultation with his assistant.

The set-piece came to nothing and Woods sealed it in stoppage-time when Hawkins broke down the right and squared across the box for substitute Walker to tap in at the far post.