This very competitive match, played out in blisteringly hot conditions, was marred by a serious looking injury to Stones striker Lewis Putman. The prolific forward was tackled heavily and appeared to twist his knee as he fell; he was taken to hospital after the game.
This incident completed altered the game dynamic in the second period as Wealdstone had comfortably matched United in an even but physically contested first half that had ended in stalemate. But matters could have boiled over in a physical and tetchy second period.
Several regular players were unavailable for this match – notably Sean Cronin, Wes Parker, Jey Siva and Tom Pett. The squad was again rotated.
After a very high tempo start to the second period, it was Putman that deservedly took Stones into the lead as early as the 51st minute after ‘keeper Jonathan North had made a great save from Luke Williams. Putman scored from the most acute of angles with a powerful left foot drive that crashed in off the far post.
After the injury to Putman Stones appeared to lose shape and made some uncharacteristic defensive errors that United were able to capitalise upon and hit back with two goals in quick succession. First Luke Medley found the net with a deflected effort that caught North out and then Frankie Merrifield seized on a loose ball from Nathan Koo-Booth in front of goal.
Stones should have equalised when Chris Moore had the goal at this mercy but his effort was straight at Ashley Harris. Hayes then snatched a third goal, having missed a couple of good chances earlier on, to chalk up what had earlier seemed an unlikely score line when Maurice Harrison turned sharply giving North no chance with a few minutes remaining.
So, a tough examination for Wealdstone which gave a sterner test of physical and high tempo play but this type of game is, more usefully, a more accurate indication of what will be faced in two weeks time when the real action starts.
Wealdstone; North, McCubbin, Okimo, Hammond, Koo-Booth, Brooks, James, Martin, McGleish, Godfrey, Hutchinson. Subs all used; Putman, Moore, Bailey, Dean, Carlos, Webb. N/u: Poniskaitis.