Wealdstone made the long trip to Suffolk on Tuesday evening to take on in-form and newly promoted Leiston, a side unbeaten in their last ten games after losing to top side Whitehawk as long ago as mid November, after they struggled to gain points early in the campaign. A very strong and committed defensive display in the first half was not quite matched in the second half as Stones couldn’t make use of the strong wind at their backs and the advantage was lost with a late equaliser.
This match proved to a tough test for Stones, played out in high winds making control difficult and not suiting their passing game. Wealdstone took the lead in the first half from a Tom Pett strike but conceded in disappointing fashion 12 minutes from time and in the end they had to be content with a solitary point for their efforts. This leaves Stones 9 points behind Whitehawk with one game in hand as they prepare to face nemesis side Lowestoft Town on Saturday at The Vale.
Stones kicked off facing into the wind and soon found some joy down the left flank where Lee Chappell’s pace caused problems for the home defence. But the away side had a let-off after 10 minutes play when Rikki Banks couldn’t collect and the ball was cleared off the line. The Blues had good possession with the wind at their backs but stoic defending from Sean Cronin, Wes Parker and James Hammond repelled the danger moves.
After absorbing pressure, Stones broke and went ahead on 28 minutes. Great hold up work from Chris Moore meant that he found Peter Dean in space on the left and his ball to Tom Pett was finished with a low strike past Leiston’s loan keeper Dan Heath.
A fantastic save from Banks prevented the home side from drawing level before the break
Stones now had the wind in their favour but couldn’t take advantage and in the process began to concede too much midfield possession. Even so Peter Dean had a chance to increase his side’s lead from a Moore pass but he skyed his strike.
Parker went off injured and was replaced by Tommy Brewer.
With 12 minutes left on the clock Stones conceded. A poor back pass to Banks left him exposed and Leiston striker Emmanuel Osei nipped in for a gutting equaliser but nonetheless deserved on the balance of play in the second period.
Stones came to attacking life in the final 10 minutes as loanee Leon Smith came on for Dean.
Despite efforts from Chris O’Leary, Tom Pett and finally Smith the home side held on thanks to some excellent stopping from Heath
Wealdstone: Banks, Hammond, Chappell, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Moore, Dean, Pett. Subs used; Brewer, Smith. N/u: Webb, Valchev, James
Attendance: 202 (60 Wealdstone)
Match Report by Nick DuGard