For the most part this was a scrappy match which looked as if it was petering out into a goalless draw after both sides had failed to take their chances. However, it was fitting that the winning goal was also scrappy. A header from Brad Hewitt caused panic in the box following a corner, and with Slough unable to clear their lines, Ronnel Dennis scored with a close-range header. Northwood had created the clearer chances in the second half and probably should have been ahead by this point.
Slough’s new-look side carved out few clear chances, but were hampered by the unavailability of three strikers, with the versatile Adam Foulser partnering Victor Osobu up front – the latter having only joined the club in midweek. Northwood, meanwhile, were facing life without Reece Yorke and Oliver Hawkins, who moved to higher-ranked clubs in the summer.
In the very early going, Osobu charged forward and had a shot blocked, while the visitors had a penalty appeal waved away as Garry Senior made his way into the box and was muscled off the ball.
Northwood were looking the more likely to make something happen, but the first shot on target came from Foulser, who worked space for a shot which James Reading beat away comfortably. Shortly after, Foulser was inches away from making contact with Sean Fraser’s chipped cross, but Reading got just in front of the striker to intervene.
Despite trying to create chances, Slough had to make do with efforts from outside the box – Darren Wheeler and Ollie Burgess were off-target with efforts, and Burgess later had a penalty appeal waved away after appearing to be felled, before being booked for his complaints.
Jon-Jo Bates brought a simple save out of Somerville after good work by Niko Muir as the first half drew to a close, with the game a fairly close affair. Slough thought they had taken the lead when Osobu finished well from a Hollis cross, but his headed effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
The visitors started the second half well and Fraser was well placed to block a shot from Bates after the dangerous Joakaun Ehui had done well to cut the ball back to him. Muir lifted a first-time volley over the bar, but should have done better with Somerville out of position.
Slough were getting efforts in on goal, but did not look like breaking the deadlock – Burgess did well to get in front of his man but sent a header well wide from Wheeler’s free kick, and just after the hour mark, Osobu could only shoot straight at Reading after a good ball has played him in.
Aaron Couch replaced Foulser, with the makeshift strike partnership not really clicking, but it was Northwood who had the best chance of the match, which was spurned by Muir. A super cross from Ehui on the right picked out the striker in space, but he swept the ball over the bar.
With around fifteen minutes to go, it looked as if both sides had run out of ideas. Somerville saved a low drive from Muir and George Short shot well over. A free kick from Wheeler almost caused a surprise as it flew all the way across goal, but nobody could apply a finishing touch and the ball drifted wide.
But in the closing stages both sides forged good chances. Before Dennis’s winning goal, Warren Harris fired a foot wide after good work from Osobu to work an opening, and Dave Woozley headed straight at Reading from a long throw by Guy Hollis. But Northwood must have thought their luck had deserted them when, after a great move involving Dennis, Bates and substitute Sprague, Somerville denied Nicholas with a fine save, deflecting the ball over the bar with his legs, although the Northwood player should have left him no chance.
With just a few minutes remaining, Dennis pounced to win all three points for the Woods, with Slough unable to reply in the remaining time. A trip to Uxbridge awaits on Tuesday evening in the Rebels’ first away game of the season.
Northwood Line up
James Reading, Danny McDonell, Ryan Phillips, Brad Hewitt (c), Steve Brown, Graig White, Jon-Jo Bates, James McCluskey (George Nicholas), Niko Muir, Gary Senior (Ronnel Dennis), Joakaun Ehui (Oliver Sprague). Subs not used: Lee Close, Sonny Bailey-Aird.