A battling performance from Wealdstone in front of a Vale crowd of 772 saw them play out a hard fought 0-0 draw with fellow playoff participants Lowestoft in what may be a dress rehearsal for the play-off final on Bank Holiday Monday.
Unfortunately though, the point gained may not be enough for Stones to their secure the coveted 2nd spot, and what’s more they will now have to beat Canvey Island at The Vale in the last game of the season to make sure of 3rd place and home advantage in the upcoming play-off semi final.
All in all a draw was probably a fair result, with both sides having a flurry of chances late on to win it in what had previously , at times, been a scrappy yet very competitive encounter. Neither side could snatch that elusive goal so they had to settle for a share of the spoils which no doubt left the visitors happier.
With striker Scott McGleish failing a late fitness test having picked up a knock during Saturday’s victory over Carshalton, Manager Gordon Bartlett opted to go for a 4-5-1 formation with Chris Moore leading the line on his own upfront. Elliot Godfrey was a surprise inclusion in the midfield as he looked to add some steel against a physical Lowestoft Town side.
With so much at stake it was perhaps a predictably tense start from both sides, with Tom Pett having the first chance of the evening on ten minutes when he capitalised on a mix up between Curtley Williams and Adam Smith; stealing possession before unleashing an effort from the edge of the box which was beaten away by Lowestoft ‘keeper Andrew Plummer.
Town’s Adam Smith was then extremely lucky to escape punishment for a dangerous high tackle on Pett with 14 minutes on the clock, catching the Wealdstone winger with a studs up lunge which amazingly was not even deemed worthy of a yellow by referee Lee Venamore. Chris Henderson did find his way into the book though as the Lowestoft forward disgracefully tried to haul the stricken Pett to his feet in the aftermath of the challenge.
The challenge sadly ended Pett’s game as he had to be replaced by Peter Dean.
Smith’s challenge certainly seemed to fire up the home side, and Chris Moore saw yellow for a strong challenge on Sam Gaughran, not dissimilar to one a few minutes previously by Erkan Okay which once again went unpunished by the referee.
The remainder of the half was a typically feisty affair; with Stones more than matching the battling qualities of the visitors in the middle of the park as both sides restricted each other to efforts from distance.
The second half began with a half chance for Lowestoft, as Henderson drilled an effort from 20 yards which was easily gathered by Rikki Banks.
There was a second change of the evening for Stones on 52 minutes with Wes Parker being withdrawn through injury, and Stefan Bailey coming on in his place which meant a reshuffle at the back; James Hammond slotted in at centre back alongside Sean Cronin.
Godfrey then spurned a wonderful opportunity on the hour mark as the lively Scott McCubbin swung over a great cross from the right which picked out the former Staines man at the near post, however he couldn’t quite make enough contact from his diving effort to turn the ball home.
At the other end Andrew Fisk sent a glancing header just wide of the post following an Erkan Okay free kick.
The game had at livened up and a goal began to look a real possibility; Dyer found space for himself down the left on 70 minutes before drilling the ball across the box which somehow evaded the Stones players in the box.
Banks had to be alert three minutes later as he tipped a Michael Frew header over the bar following Okay’s ball into the box.
Stones then had two chances in quick succession a couple of minutes later; Moore firing wide from McCubbin’s cross, before substitute Richard Jolly flashed a header just over following Cronin’s ball into the box.
McCubbin was involved at the other end three minutes from time, finding himself in the right place at the right time to clear Henderson’s goal bound shot after the striker had sprung the offside trap.
It was to be the last chance of the evening for either side, with Stones having one more league game left as they play host to Canvey Island on Saturday, 3pm kick off.
Wealdstone: Banks, Hammond, Chappell, Parker (c) (Bailey 52), Cronin, Dyer (Jolly 72), McCubbin, O’Leary, Moore, Godfrey, Pett (Dean 14). Subs not used: James, North
Man of the match: Chris Moore
Match Report by Stuart Warren