A fine goal keeping display by Jonathan North and a controlled and disciplined performance from the team in blue meant that the Harrow derby bragging rights stayed firmly with Wealdstone in a highly entertaining derby clash at a soaking wet Earlsmead on Saturday.
And is was a case of experience and youth for Stones’ goals with scores in the second half from veteran striker Chris Moore and eighteen year old Reece Grant coming off the bench to grab a first senior goal following his promotion this campaign from the scholarship and reserve sides.
This derby match has traditionally been played over the Christmas and Easter holiday periods attracting some strong neutral support but the build up to this clash had a somewhat subdued feel to it attracting a gate of only 452 – the lowest for some years. Even so the travelling contingent made up well over 300 of the total crowd and the Stones fans contributed as boisterously as ever to the occasion.
With skipper Wes Parker out through injury, Jerome Okimo slotted comfortably and very capably into the centre half position; Peter Dean was back in the starting line up in a re-jigged shape that worked well for Stones, combating the ever present threat of the pace of Borough’s Shaun Lucien and Simeon Akinola.
Wealdstone ripped into Borough from kick-off and decent early chances for Chris Moore and Elliott Godfrey ought to have found the net. And with the Harrow defence struggling to contain the in-form Tom Pett on a greasy surface it looked like an early goal for the visitors was inevitable.
A Pett strike looked goal bound on 19 minutes but it somehow found the body of Moore rather than the back of the Borough net.
But Borough weathered the storm and hit back to issue a warning that their pace on the counter could hurt the Stones – and it almost did when Akinola broke free on two occasions but Jonathan North got down brilliantly, blocking both strikes. Stones defence superbly marshalled by skipper Sean Cronin repelled other sporadic attacking moves by the Reds.
It was Stones that continued to show the most forward momentum and composure in the half but they couldn’t get the breakthrough their dominance deserved with a particularly strong middle of the park performance from Stefan Bailey that broke up most of what Boro tried to build.
Pett was turning Adam Louth inside out on the right flank but the end product from the cross wasn’t delivering.
After the break and with the driving rain fully returned it was a matter of who would conjure up a finish but it was again the visitors that looked the more likely early on as Scott McGleish headed just wide.
But again Boro broke free and a fantastic one handed save from the cat like North prevented Akinola from taking his side into the lead on 51 minutes.
Finally, on the 59 minute mark, the deadlock was broken. McGleish wriggled past three red shirts down the right and drilled the ball to Moore, back to goal eight yards out. Moore laid the ball off but when the shot was charged down the rebound fell invitingly and his left footed strike ripped into the back of the net past the despairing dive of Boro keeper Max Oberschmidt.
Another North tip over from Shaun Lucien soon after was yet another warning that the home side still retained a threat but the goal had wounded Harrow and there play now looked increasingly laboured as a flurry of substitutions by both sides was inevitable in the conditions.
Stones killed off the contest on 84 minutes when substitute Reece Grant who had only been on the pitch for six minutes joyously headed in a cross that crashed in off the woodwork from a Jey Siva cross.
Grant had a great opportunity to double his senior goal tally but he snatched at his chance and blasted over when he had raced well clear with a minute remaining.
Wealdstone entertain Enfield Town at The Vale on Bank Holiday Monday in another exciting ‘new derby’ clash, kick off 3pm
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Siva, Okimo, Cronin, Godfrey, Dean, Bailey, McGleish, Moore, Pett. Subs used: Martin, Little, Grant. N/u; Hutchinson, Haxia (GK)
Attendance: 452 (Wealdstone 320)
Match Report by Nick DuGard