Honours were even at the Gallagher Stadium for this Ryman Premier League opening fixture, however it will be the visitors who will be scratching their heads as to how they didn’t put the home side to the sword, due mainly to Lee Worgan, in the home goal, taking the MoM honours
Wealdstone lined-up with a solid 4-5-1 formation, with Jerome Okimo and Adam Martin making their Ryman Premier debuts, with Chris Moore the lone striker who was handful all afternoon for the home back four with his clever hold-up play and aerial ability.
The opening 20 minutes saw plenty of neat football from both sides with little end product, the visitors were first to show any real intent when Elliot Godfrey sent in a rasping shot over Worgan’s bar. Minutes later Tom Pett had a better chance, but was unable to get any real power into his shot which was comfortable saved by Worgan.
The visitors were now starting to control the game and it was that man Pett who had another chance which was blocked for a corner. The resultant kick was cleared by the home side out to Adam Martin who whipped in a far past cross which Jerome Okimo just failed to make contact. The visitors clearly thought that a home defender had touched the ball for another corner but the match referee, Sam Purkiss, gave a goal kick. This prompted an exchange of views between Chris Moore and the match official which resulted in the forward being booked.
The visitors created further chances, the first for Moore which saw a rather tame shot held by Worgan; then a header from an unmarked Godfrey which was well gathered by Worgan. As half time was approaching it was that man Pett again causing mayhem down the hosts left cutting-in and his shot bought another smart save, this time one handed, by Worgan. In added time the home side nicked a goal with a well worked piece of play down the visitors left which allowed Rory Hill to cut-in and as Jay Silva went to close him down the player un-leashed a good shot which flew past Jonathan North into the net.
The visitors kicked-off the second half, but is was the home side who had the first 2 real chances of the half but competent unfussy keeping from North ensured that they didn’t extend their lead. The pattern of play soon returned to that of the latter part of the first half, the visitors controlling the midfield and looking dangerous every time they went forward. The equalizer duly arrived just before the hour when a home defender was penalized for handball about 25 yards from goal, the quick thinking Peter Dean grabbed the ball and played a short pass to Pett who skinned the full-back and laid the ball into the path of Moore for a simple tap-in from 6 yards much to the delight of the travelling Stones faithful behind the goal.
Further chances were created by the visitors with Moore again drawing a good save from Worgan and then Stefan Bailey blazing over
when well placed. The home side conjured one further good chance, Frannie Collin broke in the channel between James Hammond and Wes Parker but the onrushing North forced the forward to blaze over the bar. With the game drawing to a close it was the visitors who could have taken all three points, 2 chances fell to substitute Jack Hutchinson, the first was snatched at and put over the bar, the second followed some excellent play by Pett who beat the full back and then cut the ball back to Hutchinson who placed a well stuck shot which hit the foot of the post and was then scrambled away by the ever alert Worgan.
A entertaining opening fixture, a solid performance from all in White today, the defensive hesitancy in pre-season banished, the midfield had power and pace with Tom Pett always a thorn in the side for the hosts, my MoM was Chris Moore for his tireless running, clever hold-up play and distribution, and not forgetting the number of headers won and of course getting a goal.
North, Hammond, Siva, Parker, Okimo, Bailey (Hutchinson 84), Dean ( Grant 79), Martin, Moore, Godfrey & Pett. Subs not used: Haxhia, Brooks, Webb.
(220 Away fans)
Match Report by Alan K Hill