A surprisingly lacklustre performance saw Wealdstone suffer their first defeat of the season on Bank Holiday Monday as they went down 1-0 at Lewes after an unusually early kick-off that seemed to add to the lethargy on display. Having taken 7 points from their first three games Stones should have been confident of coming away from The Dripping Pan with at least a point. However their display was flat and lacked creativity, with a penalty kick from Karl Beckford being enough to gift the home side their first victory of the season.
Stones were without star midfielder Alex Dyer through injury and his creative and probing abilities were undoubtedly missed.
Backed once again by a large and vociferous following who were hoping to see a reversal of last season’s debacle in this fixture, it was Stones who had by far the better of the possession early on without creating any real clear cut chances.
Scott Fitzgerald fired a 20 yard free kick straight into the wall on 4 minutes and then on the 20 minute mark Wes Parker headed over from a decent Lee Chappell delivery.
The Rooks then began to see more of the ball and Layton Schaaf did well to turn his marker before firing a fierce shot which Rikki Banks very capably beat away at his near post.
Stones registered their first strike on target on 38 minutes; Kurtney Brooks ending a driving run from the centre of midfield with a low strike from just outside the box straight at home ‘keeper Kieron Thorp. A pass to the lurking Richard Jolly might have been a better option.
There was an enforced change for the visitors at half time as summer signing Tommy Brewer’s first start was cut short by injury, with Nathan Webb replacing him.
Lewes gained in confidence as Stones attack faltered and began the second half on the front foot; Anthony Thomas was unlucky to see his dipping effort from 20 yards fly just wide of the upright.
At the other end Chris O’Leary leaped expertly to meet a Lee Chappell corner, however his header cleared the crossbar.
Steve Brinkhurst then tried his luck from distance for the home side, but his low drive flashed just wide.
Despite a few efforts from long range Wealdstone were struggling to create any real threat upfront with last season’s leading scorer Richard Jolly becoming increasingly isolated. The home side grew further in confidence suspecting they could now snatch what had earlier seemed an unlikely possibility of victory.
And they did just that with what turned out to be the only goal of the game on 81 minutes. Chappell clumsily hauled down Nathan Crabb just inside the box, with the referee immediately pointing to the spot. Karl Beckford stepped up and he duly dispatched the resultant kick, sending Rikki Banks the wrong way.
Stones tried to get the ball forward in the remaining minutes and brought on George Nicholas and Tashan Jordan in an effort to spark a change in fortunes. However, much like the rest of a hugely frustrating afternoon, Wealdstone were unable to create anything clear cut and they were disappointingly condemned to their first defeat of the season.
They must now pick themselves up rapidly for the visit of newly promoted Whitehawk on Saturday; 3pm kick off at The Vale.
Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker (c), Massey, Brooks, Brewer (Webb 46), O’Leary, Fitzgerald (Nicholas 66), Jolly, Pett (Jordan 72). Subs not used: Hammond, Stanislaus.
Match Report By Stuart Warren