Wealdstone’s hopes of keeping within striking range of long term leaders Whitehawk were dealt a huge blow on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw at Bury Town.
Such is the intensity at the top of Ryman Table as the season draws to its climax any points dropped immediately hands a critical advantage to a rival club, with games now rapidly running out.
With Whitehawk and Lowestoft both picking up vital wins, it looks like Stones will now have to settle for a playoff place, with securing 2nd place and home advantage for the semi-final surely the main target for Gordon Bartlett’s men.
Better news for Stones was that Concord Rangers surprisingly lost again and Margate, also occupying one of the play-off slots also failed to pick up any points on Saturday
The match itself was a pretty turgid affair with few chances, with the home side having the best opportunity three minutes before the break when Craig Parker fired over from the penalty spot after Sean Cronin was harshly adjudged to have fouled John Sands.
There was just the one change for Wealdstone from the side which had beaten Harrow Borough 2-0 on Easter Monday, with Alex Dyer replacing the injured Scott McCubbin.
It was the home side who had the first opportunity of the afternoon with three minutes on the clock when the dangerous Sam Reed fired well wide from the edge of the box whilst under pressure from Chris O’Leary.
Both sides were struggling to get to grips with a difficult, bone hard, pitch in the opening moments, as the recent dry weather made for a bumpy playing surface.
Stones registered their first effort on 17 minutes; Kurtney Brooks hitting a shot from 20 yards which was spilled by Bury Town ‘keeper Marcus Garnham. Richard Jolly tried to scramble the loose ball home but he was flagged offside.
Dyer threaded a great through ball through to Scott McGleish on the half hour mark, with the former Colchester United man bringing the ball down well before skewing a shot wide of the far post.
Both sides were struggling to create chances in what was turning into a non-eventful first period, although Town’s Connor Hall tried his luck with a spectacular 30 yard volley which unfortunately for him flew straight at Wealdstone ‘keeper Jonathan North.
Three minutes before the break the home side were somewhat controversially awarded a penalty. Cronin and Sands both contested the ball in air, with the referee adjudging that Cronin had pushed the Town forward in the back. Parker stepped up to take the penalty but his effort flew over the bar much to the delight and relief of the 155 travelling Wealdstone fans.
Stones started the second half the quicker of the sides, with McGleish showing great work rate to win the ball before hitting a 20 yard effort which was comfortably saved by Garnham
The visitors were enjoying a lot more of the ball in the second half, but they were unable to create a cutting edge against a well drilled Bury backline.
Tom Pett had a chance on 62 minutes after Town could only half clear an Alex Dyer corner, the ball dropped to the winger on the edge of the box whose volleyed effort flew over the bar.
Wealdstone felt they should have had a penalty with 15 minutes left to play when Adam Tann appeared to handle in the box, but the infringement was missed by the referee and his assistant.
The final ten minutes saw Stones desperately attempting to get the ball into the box as they searched for a winner, but Town were able to hold on for a point which probably also killed off Bury’s own chances of a play-off berth.
Next up for Wealdstone is a home encounter at The Vale, again with Bury Town on Tuesday night (9 April), 7.45pm kick off.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Chappell, Parker (c), Cronin, Dyer (Bailey 62), Brooks, O’Leary, McGleish, Jolly (Moore 62), Pett (Webb 75). Subs not used: Banks, James
Attendance: 479 (Wealdstone: 155)