Wealdstone were comfortably beaten on Saturday when they tasted defeat in the league for only the second time this season at bogey side Lowestoft.
Having suffered a late gut wrenching defeat on their last visit to Crown Meadow in last season’s playoff semi-final, Stones would have been looking to exact revenge against a side they haven’t had the best of records against in recent times. In truth though, Wealdstone just simply weren’t good enough on the day and the score line would have been far greater had it not been for some top notch goalkeeping from Rikki Banks.
The big team news before kickoff was manager Gordon Bartlett’s decision to rest top scorer Richard Jolly, naming him as a sub, with new signing Chris Moore making his Wealdstone debut in the striker role. There was also a first league start of the season for former Hayes & Yeading defender Esmond James who got the nod at right back in place of Scott McCubbin who was unavailable, and James Hammond.
It was the home side, in front of their large but typically subdued crowd, who started the afternoon on the front foot, registering their first effort on goal on nine minutes when Chris Henderson’s cross field pass found Joe Francis on the left hand side who drilled a powerful effort just over the bar from the edge of the box.
They came even closer to opening the scoring two minutes later when Scott Mitchell headed onto the roof of the net from Francis’s cross.
Stones were struggling to stamp their authority on the game against a well drilled Lowestoft side, and they found themselves behind after 20 minutes. Michael Frew turned neatly past a defender before playing in the lively Francis whose effort was turned behind for a corner by Banks. It proved to be just a temporary respite though, as from the resultant set piece big Jack Defty rose unchallenged to head home.
The visitors looked for a response, and Sean Cronin saw his first time volley from a Lee Chappell corner well blocked, before Curtley Williams did well to turn a driven cross from Chappell behind for a corner.
Jack Defty certainly was causing all sorts of problems for Wealdstone at the other end, and Banks showed great reflexes to palm away a close range effort from the striker following a cross from Michael Frew.
Former Dagenham and Redbridge striker Chris Moore was working hard upfront as he looked to make an impact on his Stones debut, and his endeavour almost paid off ten minutes before the break when he made space for himself down the right before sending the ball over which was cleared onto his own cross bar by Town defender Blake Sakar.
There was once change for Wealdstone at half time with Richard Jolly replacing Peter Dean.
The change had little effect though and Stones found themselves 2-0 down four minutes after the break. Francis breezed past Esmond James on the left before pulling the ball back to Defty who side footed home from close range.
Substitute Jolly had a chance to reduce the arrears on 54 minutes, but he miskicked from close range from a decent ball across the box from Chappell.
The home side were now dominating play in all areas, and Banks twice excelled to stop the visitors extending their lead further, first denying Defty a hatrick on 58 minutes before again showing great reflexes to keep out a Frew three minutes later.
Almost inevitably though, a third goal arrived for Lowestoft as Jack Defty completed his hatrick four minutes from time, heading in from Danny Cunningham’s free kick to round off a miserable afternoon for Wealdstone.
Speaking after the game Stones boss Gordon Bartlett was as honest as ever in his post match assessment: ‘We were inept virtually all over the park today with only Rikki doing well and keeping us in it; I am bitterly disappointed. We went the entire afternoon with hardly a shot on target; the question now is how we respond to this. We must not dwell on the negatives and we will go again at Canvey on Tuesday night’
Wealdstone: Banks, James, Tumwa (Pett 58), Parker (c), Cronin, Dyer, Webb, O’Leary (Brooks 58), Dean (Jolly 46), Moore, Chappell. Subs not used: McCubbin, Haxhia
Attendance: 576 (Wealdstone: 50)
Man of the match: Rikki Banks