Injuries mar another super Woodbury show
22:16 26 September 2012
Woodbury 3, Axminster Town 1
The Woods welcomed the table topping visitors to Endurance Park and sent them packing with a fine all-round display.
The Woods pre-match plans were thrown into chaos with the unavailability of the working Andy Bennett and play-maker Alfie Cleave running late for the same reasons. This led to a re-shuffle with Paul Rowsell taking on the role of centre-back.
Woodbury began confidently with some crisp passing. Debut making Declan Bourne impressed up front. Disaster struck when, in the 15th minute, Rowsell fell in a heap with what looked a nasty knee injury and late arrival Cleave was slotted in as another make-shift centre back! Three minutes later the home faithful were celebrating when a well flighted Alex Hughes corner was met by the head of Cleave to power the ball past the Tigers keeper. Five minutes later Ryan Smith gathered the ball some 30-yuards from goal, looked up and rifled a shot that cannoned off the cross bar only to be scrambled clear. On the half hour Hughes found space, held of a challenge and tucked away a neat finish to double the Woods lead. Ten minutes before the break the visitors were mighty close to halving the deficit, but were denied by a wonderful leap and save by Woods keeper Brad Evans who pushed the ball onto the frame of the goal and then Charlie Page helped to clear the lines. Injury woe then struck again with Wayne Rowsell taking a bang to his ankle and having to hobble for the remainder of the half. After the break it took a while for either side to find a new momentum. It was not until the 65th minute that there was significant goal action with Woodbury taking a three goal lead when Hughes shook off the attentions of his marker and fed Bourne who showed real strength to outmuscle the defender and roll the ball beyond the advancing keeper.
Wayne Rowsell then limped out of the action. The disappointment of the impressive Rowsell’s departure was tempered by the introduction for the first time this term of Kev Pitt. With Michael Simpson and Rhys Perry working hard in the full back berths and equal to anything that the visiting side could offer, the Woods held a measure of control over the proceedings. Craig Leaman then picked up his second yellow card of the term. However, the midfielder was having a fine game and he was very close to making it 4-1 when his 30-yard strike crashed against the angle of upright and crossbar.
With three minutes to go Axminster were awarded a penalty which they duly despatched for a late consolation.
Woodbury boss Adam Reid said: “It was a splendid result and a marvellous team performance. It takes a lot of effort and pressing to stop a good footballing side playing on a big pitch like Endurance Park. They (Axminster Town) where a good side, but so are we, and with the right work ethic, we will go very close to having a say in the destination of trophies this term. Injuries are going to be a concern as we picked up a couple more in this game. Both Rowsell’s are pivotal to us and we can only hope their respective injuries are not of the longer-term variety. That said it is very refreshing to have the likes of Steve Hunt, Richard Hill and of course the guys who began the day on the bench chomping at the bit to be involved. The hard part is keeping everybody happy, but if we are going to do well this season the new will need to have a big squad. Everybody can’t start every week, but there will be plenty of chances for players to do their bit in the campaign.”
The Woods chief continued: “The purists would have rightly awarded Alex Hughes the Man of the Match award, but for me it as Alfie Cleave who not only came on and scored within minutes, but marshalled the defence admirably in the absence of Paul (Rowsell) and Andy (Bennett).
Woodbury team: Brad Evans, Rhys Perry, Charlie Page, Paul Rowsell, (Alfie Cleave 15), Michael Simpson, (Jonny Killick 75) Craig Leaman, Wayne Rowsell, (Kev Pitt 65) Alex Hughes, Dominic Brown, Ryan Smith, Declan Bourne: Subs not used Joe Pond, Steve Hunt.