Goals from veteran strikers Chris Moore and Scott McGleish saw Wealdstone bounce back from their shock midweek defeat against Bury Town as they ran out 2-0 victors against relegation threatened Cray Wanderers on Saturday.
With a combined age of 72, the hugely experienced front pairing of McGleish and Moore put the visitors to the sword as they helped themselves to a goal each at a rain soaked Grosvenor Vale.
The victory was made all the more important as fellow promotion contenders Lowestoft and Concord both suffered hugely surprising defeats, whilst league leaders Whitehawk also dropped points as they were held at home by Bury as the season reaches an exciting climax.
There were three changes from the side which had suffered a rare defeat on Tuesday night, with Sean Cronin just one booking away from suspension, he was not risked so was replaced by Darren Locke. Chris O’Leary was recalled as he replaced Kurtney Brooks in the centre of midfield, with Rikki Banks regaining the number one shirt from Jonathan North.
Wealdstone immediately sought to make amends for the midweek reverse, and they got off to the perfect start with just seven minutes on the clock. Goalkeeper Rikki Banks sent a raking ball downfield which found it’s was to Scott McGleish who beat the offside trap with ease before finishing smartly past Andy Walker in the Cray goal.
After the bright start from Stones the visitors began to get more of a foothold on the game, and Michael Power tried his luck with an effort from 25 yards which was straight down the throat of Banks.
The Wands then had a golden opportunity to pull level on the half hour mark when Wes Parker was adjudged to have pulled back Leigh Bremner in the box resulting in a penalty. Bremner stepped up to take the kick himself, but his less than powerful effort was well saved by the steadfast Banks, much to the relief of the vast majority of the 549 crowd.
At the other end Moore was guilty of wasting a good chance five minutes later, as he headed over when unmarked from close range after a pin point cross by James Hammond.
The ever lively Moore came close again on 39 minutes, this time hitting an effort from McGleish’s cross which was palmed away by Walker, before O’Leary saw his effort from the rebound cleared off the line by Aaron Day.
Wanderers had a decent chance to level four minutes after the restart; Alex Stavrinou hitting a powerful effort from the corner of the box which flew just wide of the far post.
The second and decisive goal for Stones arrived on 68 minutes. Hammond played a long ball forward which was flicked into the path of Chris Moore by O’Leary, with the former Brentford man making no mistake as he clinically rifled the ball past Walker.
Despite being two goals down Cray were still working hard to salvage something from the game, although in doing so there were more gaps appearing in midfield and Lee Chappell almost exploited one of these on 75 minutes as he strode forward before unleashing a vicious effort from 30 yards which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Walker.
Walker excelled again five minutes later as he palmed away Moore’s placed shot from the edge of the box which was destined for the bottom corner.
Cray had a clear chance to set up a grandstand finish three minutes before the end when Banks could only parry a powerful shot from Chris Saunders resulting in a goalmouth scramble, but Stones were eventually able to clear with great desire to get bodies in the way.
Next up for Wealdstone is a trip to Hampton and Richmond Borough on Thursday night 7.45pm kick off, before they travel to Carshalton Athletic two days later.
Wealdstone: Banks, Hammond, Chappell, Parker (c), Locke, Bailey (McCubbin 46), James (Dean 61), O’Leary, McGleish, Moore, Pett. Subs not used: Brooks, Jolly, North.
Man of the match: Scott McGleish