United’s Allied Counties side tasted defeat for the first time on Wednesday evening losing 4-3 at Church Road to a useful looking Northwood side.
Unfortunately United’s cause was not helped by some indecisive goalkeeping from Matthew Faley, a missed spot kick and some below par officiating from referee Mr Rea who having dismissed Esmond James for an apparent stamp failed to even speak to ‘Woods Nick Glenday who had raced 30 yards to strike James right in front of the official.
The game itself was very stop/start as Mr Rea constantly stopped play for the slightest infringement and United were repeatedly called for offside as the Northwood back four held a very high line up the field.
The first half was not good in quality with the visitors having a slight edge in possession which led to them going in two goals to the good at the break. The first strike came on twelve minutes, a corner was played into the area and flicked skywards at the near post, as the ball came down in the six yard box Jake O’Meara was able to hook the bouncing ball home as Faley remained rooted to his line.
With Woods keeper Troy Roach not having been tested, United fell two behind on 31 minutes as Faley was again static at a corner as Jamie Tompkins headed home at the near post unchallenged by keeper or defender.
Six minutes before the break United did have the ball in the net only for the offside flag to once more be raised. Dan Mehmet initially sent Hasib Saeed towards goal, his first effort was well blocked by Roach and when he chipped over the loose ball James headed home only to be denied by the late raising of the flag.
The second half was to prove a much more lively affair as United kept coming from behind despite being a man short for 31 minutes, until the fatal blow arrived ten minutes from time as Northwood took the points.
United pulled one back on 52 minutes after James worked his way through a succession of tackles, despite being tripped he refused to go down and finally pulled the ball back from the bye-line to Mohammed Bashley who netted from an acute angle.
Four minutes later United should have been level, Bashley was felled just inside the area and a penalty was duly awarded, sadly Ollie Fayed leant back as he struck the ball and put it over the crossbar.
A further four minutes elapsed and with just ten men following James’ dismissal United were level. A free-kick from the right side was headed on by Fayed, a defensive header on the line cleared the ball to the edge of the area where centre-back Isidore Nandji fired in a shot that deflected past Roach.
Bashley went close for United, Roach making a good save with his legs and seconds later Jack Bennett thought he had netted for Woods but his chip was inches over the bar.
Twenty minutes remained when the visitors controversially took the lead. A corner from the left side was headed out to the edge of the area where Tyrone Durrant clearly controlled the ball with his hand before the ball was chipped through to Tompkins who rolled the ball past the unprotected Faley.
Despite being a man down, United took just eight minutes to pull it level again. Substitute Michael Bryan sent Mehmet through the square Woods defence, he drew Roach toward him before rolling the ball to his left where the unexpected figure of Nandji arrived to tap home.
Sadly two minutes later the killer blow was struck as Northwood once more took the lead with yet another unchallenged header in the six yard box. A left wing cross was helped on to Courtney Francis who headed past the stationary Faley to give his side three points.
Three minutes from time Faley did pull off an excellent stop when he rose full stretch to tip over a Bennett drive but all this did was keep the score within reach, sadly United could not find that fourth goal.
Report by Kevin Watts.