Wealdstone eased to a comfortable victory after a hesitant start against lowly Horsham on Monday night as they returned to league action after Saturday’s first leg FA Trophy semi final.
With the second leg to come this weekend at The Vale, this win was just what Wealdstone would have wanted as they collected three valuable points, whilst managing to avoid picking up injuries.
There were two changes to the side which had lost so gallantly at Newport County AFC on Saturday, with Tommie Hoban and Tom Pett coming in for Sean Cronin and Peter Dean who both dropped to the bench.
After a fairly low key opening, the first chance of the evening fell to Wealdstone on 12 minutes when Kurtney Brooks tried his luck with a dipping 20 yard effort which Michael Hunter did well to turn over the bar.
From the resultant corner Wes Parker sent a header straight into the arms of the Horsham ‘keeper.
Stones began to look like they were finding their rhythm after a slow start and finding the Hornets in lively and determined mood; Richard Jolly was unlucky to be flagged offside after a cleverly lofted through ball from striker partner Scott Fitzgerald.
At the other end Jonathan North had to be alert on 24 minutes to block bravely at the feet of Wayne Clarke as the Horsham winger honed in on goal. A great team move then saw Stones take the lead on 26 minutes. James Hammond played a neat ball inside to Fitzgerald who in turn found Tom Pett in space out on the right. Pett was able to slide the ball across the box to Richard Jolly who was able to bundle the ball home from close range despite the best efforts of Hunter.
The lead was then doubled two minutes later. David Hicks lofted a high free kick into the box which deceived Hunter and found its way into the net via the alert Wes Parker at the far post.
Stones were now in full control and could have added a third soon after when Yinka Salami could only head Fitzgerald’s cross field pass into the path of Jolly who found himself one on one, but the Wealdstone goal ace saw his effort well saved by the outstretched foot of Hunter.
Pett was next to go close, when after beating the offside trap he drilled a shot just wide of the far post with plenty to aim at.
Some sloppy defending then nearly saw Horsham pull one back right on the stroke of half time when Hammond’s miskick saw Ray Freeman through on goal, however he was stopped by a great last ditch challenge from Tommie Hoban.
Jolly came close to adding a third for Stones 12 minutes after the restart, latching onto a ball forward from McCubbin before lofting the ball over Hunter and seeing his great effort cannon off the crossbar.
Hicks then came within inches a minute later, drilling a shot just wide from the edge of the box after a neat pass from the lively Jolly as Horsham were in some disarray.
Stones were now rampant and Lee Chappell was next to try his luck as Jolly flashed the ball across the goal but just out of reach of the onrushing wide man.
A third did eventually arrive on 65 minutes when the ever reliable Jolly notched his second of the night whilst the Stones faithful reached for their calculators. Pett threaded the ball through to the hit man whose first dinked effort beat the ‘keeper before rebounding off the post, but the Stones top scorer was not to be denied and he followed up to smash in from close range.
With the points now safe, Gordon Bartlett opted to hand popular midfielder Alex Dyer a welcome return to action after a lengthy injury, the former Northampton man playing the last 18 minutes.
There were a couple of chances late on for Stones to add to their tally, Parker firing over from close range before substitute Nikki Ahamed fired wide when in a good position.
Fitzgerald then had the ball in the net in stoppage time, but his effort was ruled out for a foul on the ‘keeper.
Wealdstone now turn their attention to the huge FA Trophy semi final second leg clash at The Vale on Saturday. Stones fans are reminded that this game is strictly all ticket but cash purchases can be made every evening this week in the Ruislip Social Club (The Vale) 6-7pm and behind the bar until 10pm on Friday. On – line ticket sales can be made via: wfcmegastore.co.uk
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, McCubbin, Parker (c), Hoban, Brooks (Dyer 72), Pett, Hicks, Fitzgerald, Jolly (Cronin 74), Chappell (Ahamed 72). Subs not used: Dean, Poniskaitis
Man of the match: Kurtney Brooks
Report by Stuart Warren