A late own goal from Alan Massey at Bury Town ended a miserable week for Wealdstone. Despite an excellent overall performance their slim playoff hopes were dealt a further hammer blow. Although this draw does not end Wealdstone’s hopes, they will now almost certainly need to win all of their remaining games to keep in the race for 5th spot.
After Tuesday’s defeat at Canvey Island in which goalkeeper Jonathan North suffered a double leg break, Stones were desperate to get back to winning ways against promotion chasing Bury. A moment of magic from Chris O’Leary gave them an early lead before they were undone by an unfortunate own goal at the death.
With the transfer window closing , manager Gordon Bartlett opted to bring in three players ahead of the deadline; goalkeeper Ashlee Jones who signed on a dual registration from Braintree, midfielder James Mulley who transferred on loan from AFC Wimbledon as well as signing experienced striker Dean Green. Jones started in goal in place of North with Green amongst the substitutes, Mulley needing a few more days to fully recover from an ankle injury.
On a difficult bone dry pitch at the Ram Meadow, Wealdstone got off to the perfect start on 8 minutes as they stunned the home fans thanks to a brilliant touch of class from Chris O’Leary. The combative midfielder found the net with a blistering strike from 25 yards which flew into the top corner giving the Bury ‘keeper no chance.
Stones were very lively in the early stages and Scott Fitzgerald mishit an effort from an acute angle as they looked to capitalise on the slow start from the Blues.
Bury responded and won a couple of corners, but they were unable to trouble Jones as Stones made easy work of defending.
Fitzgerald’s strike partner Richard Jolly had a glorious chance to double the lead on twenty minutes, uncharacteristically missing his kick from close range with the goal gaping.
Only some superb goalkeeping from Marcus Garnham then denied Jolly ten minutes before the break. The Ryman League joint top scorer hit a great effort from out on the right which Garnham did well to palm away.
Jolly had one more chance on 38 minutes blazing well over the bar when one on one with Garnham, as the Bury backline struggled to cope with the striker’s movement.
The second half begun with Jolly once again in the thick of the action, seeing Garnham save another of his goal bound efforts.
After the quick start, the goalmouth action was limited for twenty minutes as both sides struggled to get to grips with the dire playing surface that continually hampered Stones’ passing game.
Kurtney Brooks then flashed a shot wide from just inside the box with 20 minutes remaining before Scott McCubbin saw his effort well saved by the ‘keeper as the visitors battled hard to make sure of the points.
Despite having dominated for most of the afternoon, Wealdstone’s hearts were broken in injury time when Alan Massey turned the ball past his own ‘keeper from a Bury corner.
It was a gut wrenching blow for Stones who will feel they did more than enough over the course of the game to take all three points. They must now pick themselves up for Tuesday night’s clash at Hastings United – a must win game if ever there was one.
Wealdstone: Jones, McCubbin, Chappell, Hoban, Massey, Smith (Dyer 70), Brooks, O’Leary, Fitzgerald (Dean 86), Jolly, Pett. Subs not used: Hammond, Green, Ahamed.