Despite a shaky start from Wealdstone in this competitive and, at times, physical encounter they comfortably matched their Blue Square Bet Premier opposition for long periods at The Vale on Saturday
Braintree were by far the quickest out of the blocks and bossed the opening minutes and soon raced into the lead when former Stones midfielder James Mulley smashed home past an exposed Rikki Banks from an astute Sean Marks flick on.
Stones were in danger of being over run in the midfield by Town’s sharpness and direct style but the home side gradually began to pick up the pace and started to press more effectively from the hassling of Kurtney Brooks and Chris O’Leary, and the space creating skills of Alex Dyer. Stones first real chance came from the hard working Peter Dean but he blazed over from a good position on 12 minutes. Stones were now coping well with the away attack with the central defensive pairing of Captain Wes Parker and Sean Cronin in superb form.
Following some good possession, Stones gained a penalty on 37 minutes when forward Reice Stanislaus went flying after a rash challenge from Iron ‘keeper Nathan McDonald. Although McDonald parried Dean’s spot kick, Dyer was on hand to coolly stroke home the rebound
Wealdstone were now dominating and gained several half chances to take the lead before the break with Dyer particularly effective and Tom Pett finding more freedom to set up attacks although hold up play was at a premium. The game was more akin to a league clash as the tackles went flying in at times but this would have provided a good test for both sides. The best passing move of the game almost resulted in Stones taking the lead but Stanislaus was only just thwarted by McDonald
Stones flowing play was then disrupted somewhat with a large number of substitutions and after a good Banks save, Braintree had a golden opportunity to win the game when a penalty was awarded after a McCubbin foul in the box on 90 minutes. But Banks saved brilliantly and honours rightly remained even.
Wealdstone: Banks, Brewer, Chappell, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Dean, Stanislaus, Pett. Subs used: Massey, Jolly, McCubbin, Nicholas, Carrick, Jordan, Field. Not used: Papp, Haxhia.
Match Report by Nick Dugard