Having been in around ten minds as to which game to attend and unsure if some pitches would hold to the recent thaw, I finally decided upon the Southern League East clash between Northwood and Uxbridge. Having never been to Chestnut Avenue before, I gave myself ample time to get there. Just as well with the state of the traffic on the A40. Nevertheless, I was still at the ground with plenty of time to spare.
The ground itself is accessed via a narrow service road off Chestnut Avenue. For first time visitors, be aware that there isn't a great deal of parking at the ground and the adjacent car park gets increasing narrow as you drive in. If you can't find a spot, as I couldn't, you do find yourself having to reverse back out because there is no way of turning around. I eventually went back out of the service road and parked on Chestnut Avenue itself, where there was plenty of room. It's only a short walk back to the ground but it is unlit and there is a sleeping policeman halfway down the track, that you will stumble over.
Chestnut Avenue is one of those grounds where the clubhouse is separate to the playing arena but you get a ticket stub on entering and you can easily go in and out should you wish to get tea or food. Thee are toilets in the ground, but no snack bar. It's worth noting that the clubhouse, which has been recently refurbished I believe, is an excellent facility. Clean, spacious, with a good selection of food and drink available as well as a number of large screens. It's one of the nicest clubhouses I have seen at this level.
A half where the home side made most of the running. They were certainly quicker out of the blocks than Uxbridge and looked quite threatening up front, especially the pace and trickery of right-winger Evans Kouassi.
It was Kouassi who was causing a headache for Uxbridge. Quite early on he had a couple of runs where he beat his marked for skill and pace, forcing Uxbridge to double up on him, which then allowed a little more space for the Northwood central midfield to work.
On 20 minutes a Kouassi run saw him break clear but Uxbridge keeper Paul McCarthy was equal to his effort. The ball fell to a Northwood striker but he put his effort wide when he really should have scored. A let off for Uxbridge.
The remainder of the half followed a similar pattern, Northwood made most of the running and it was McCarthy who was called into action more often than his counterpart. However, as the half wore on, Uxbridge did start to get a little bit of a foothold and managed to get into some promising positions of their own, only to see most of their efforts not hit the target.
It was certainly quite a physical battle at times. One or two stern challenges were going in and there was a foot left in on a couple of occasions.
HT Northwood 0 Uxbridge 0. The home side had the better of the half but a combination of poor final ball choice and some good stops from the Uxbridge keeper have kept the game level.
There were a number of times when it really looked as if Uxbridge must score. They worked some great positions for themselves but, as with Northwood, the final decision was often the wrong one and they seemed to want to walk the ball in. On a number of occasions I found myself muttering 'have a go' when a striker laid the ball off even with a clear view of the target.
Then, after 94 minutes, with many of the crowd were shuffling towards the exit thinking that it was going to end 0-0, the away side struck the killer blow. A Cole Brown cross was squeezed home by Luke Maguire, much to the delight of the Uxbridge contingent and the utter disbelief of the home side.
FT Northwood 0 Uxbridge 1. A much improved performance from Uxbridge in the second-half probably just deserved the win but such a late winner must be a hard pill to swallow for Northwood.
Northwood: Comas, Dyeniran, Gilbey, Chingoka (c), Tring, Hobbs, Williams, Barker, Osei, Kouassi, Clarke. Subs: Azeez, Montella, Bunga, Olorunfemi, Tayaca
Uxbridge: McCarthy, Peden, Thompson, Watson, Tucker, Warner (c), Abdellah, Humphries, Kearney, Maguire, Brown. Suns: Burgess, Rabess, M'Bengui, Thomas, El-Khabouche
Ground Number: 149