Wealdstone 3 Concord Rangers 1 (Sat, 28 Apr 2012)

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It was mission accomplished as Wealdstone secured their place in the playoffs on Saturday as they triumphed with a 3-1 win over Concord Rangers at a soaking wet Grosvenor Vale. The result was what Stones needed to finish 4th, and they now face a very tough semi – final trip to Lowestoft Town on Wednesday night. It has been a remarkable season for Stones; their league form in the last couple of months has been nothing short of spectacular with Gordon Bartlett’s men having won their last five matches. This feat is made all the more impressive with the huge number of games they had to play during April.

With the wind and rain lashing down, the home side got off to the perfect start with just 21 seconds on the clock. Tom Pett fed Scott Fitzgerald down the left who fired over a cross which rebounded off the inside of the post before falling to Alex Dyer on the edge of the box with the midfielder making no mistake as he slotted the ball into the corner to the delight of the vast majority of the 770 crowd.

Stones were then rocked back as a powerful looking Concord side levelled with their first attack of the afternoon on 12 minutes. Karl Beckford swung a free kick into the box from which Steve King was able to rise highest and loop a header over Ashlee Jones.

The visitors nearly took the lead three minutes later when Tony Stokes robbed Wes Parker of possession before squaring the ball to Harry Elmes who lashed the ball over the bar from close range when he should have scored. Stones were struggling to break out of their own half and were being pressed by the stubborn Beach Boys at every opportunity.

Another set piece caused Stones more problems ten minutes before the break, with Reece Harris hitting a vicious effort from a free kick which Jones did well to hang onto.

At the other end Kurtney Brooks fired straight at Eyre from the edge of the box after doing well to create space for himself.

With the wind now at their backs and playing down the slope Stones began the second half with a penalty shout for Stones when Lee White appeared to clip Tom Pett as he ran in on goal; however the referee waved play on. Stones were now in the ascendancy and looking far more threatening.

Wealdstone regained that vital lead after only six minutes of the turnaround. Man of the match Alex Dyer skilfully picked out Richard Jolly on the edge of the box, with the striker cutting inside and firing a shot which beat Eyre at his near post.

Jolly came close again just after the hour mark as, hitting a snapshot which skidded off the surface before being collected by Eyre.

Stones were now pushing forward relentlessly as they worked to make the win safe, and Eyre did well again as he saved a Richard Jolly effort with an outstretched foot after he had been put through by substitute Lee Chappell.

Concord were still threatening at the other end though, and Jones did well to beat away a shot from Stokes on 70 minutes, before the on loan ‘keeper excelled again sixty seconds later as he blocked an effort from Sherwin Stanley as the substitute ran clear.

Nerves were then settled in the 77th minute as Stones added a third. Richard Jolly hit an effort which skidded across the box to an unmarked Scott Fitzgerald who smashed home from close range.

There was a scare late on for the home side as Stokes had a chance to set up a grandstand finish but he was once again denied by the on form Jones.

Details of coach travel for the play off semi final to Lowestoft will be announced on Sunday

Wealdstone: Jones, McCubbin, Massey, Parker (c), Cronin, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary (Smith 81), Fitzgerald, Jolly (Mulley 83), Pett (Chappell 64). Subs not used: Dean, Mulley, Hoban.

Mom: Alex Dyer

Attendance: 770

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