The clouds gathered and the heavens opened but nothing could stop Wealdstone’s impressive start to the season as they climbed to 4th in the league table. As crowds awaited the arrival of Ryman Premier newcomers, Leiston, a cloudburst resulted in some expert groundwork to limit a delay of only 15 minutes to the kick-off.
The Suffolk visitors started the brighter of the teams, looking to knock the home team out of their stride from the start. However, it would only prove to be a brief show of strength before the Stones took control.
After 10 minutes, the excellent McCubbin broke away down the right-hand side only to see his cross palmed away from the head of Tom Pett. That move provided a template for Stones’ ascendancy, with Leiston keeper Johnson being brought into action on a regular basis.
A Tom Pett corner was cleared from the leaping Chris O’Leary, making a welcome and impressive return from suspension. Statistics would later show that he completed 28 of his 30 passes during the match.
Minutes later, another Wealdstone break ended with a shot from Scott Fitzgerald going narrowly wide.
The aerial bombardment of the Leiston goal continued and a long-range missile of a throw from Lee Chappell found the head of Richard Jolly but Johnson made a spectacular save, diving to his right. Further attempts from Pett and Fitzgerald preceded an effort from Jolly which rattled the Leiston crossbar.
It was to be 41 minutes before Wealdstone finally broke the deadlock. Kurtney Brooks found himself pinned in the left-hand corner with the only option to pass back to Chappell. A whipped-in cross was knocked on by Pett allowing Fitzgerald to slot home and give the Stones a deserved half-time lead.
HALF TIME: Wealdstone 1 – 0 Leiston
The second half was played out against an ominous backdrop of dark purple clouds and lightening streaks. However, the match failed to live up to the dramatic scene with both teams struggling to find their rhythm.
The crowd atmosphere was raised when Tom Pett, who had been causing the visitors endless problems, was hacked down after the ball had left. Pett responded by going on yet another powerful run down the wing, only to see the Leiston keeper cut out his low cross.
Worryingly, Wealdstone then showed a familiar trait, allowing Leiston to creep back into the game for a period. The visitors’ best spell of the match began with a rare foray into the Stones box and the ball ending up in the net from a well-placed header. However the Vale breathed a collective sigh of relief at the sight of the linesman flagging for offside.
Leiston, clearly encouraged by the disallowed goal, attacked again with the resulting shot hitting the post and Wealdstone manager, Gordon Bartlett, feeling it was time for a change, bringing off the excellent and industrious Alex Dyer for Nathan Webb.
Despite a period of Leiston pressure, Wealdstone refused to buckle and relief for home fans arrived after 69 minutes. An effort by Fitzgerald was cleared, but only to Pett who took one touch and rifled against the underside of the bar.
Wealdstone’s second goal appeared to knock the fight out of the visitors. Indeed the prospect of a late abandonment caused by the returning deluge proved a greater threat to the result than anything on the pitch during the remainder of the match.
Wealdstone’s impressive unbeaten start to season continued and a Bank Holiday visit to Lewes allows the opportunity of gaining a firm foundation to a successful league season.
FULL TIME: Wealdstone 2 – 0 Leiston
Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Massey (Hammond), Parker, Chappell, Brooks, Dyer (Webb), O’Leary, Pett, Fitzgerald (Brewer), Jolly.
Goals: Fitzgerald (41), Pett (69)
Man of the match: Tom Pett
Match Report by Neil Rands