‘Frustrating’ was the word used by Wealdstone Manager Gordon Bartlett after the match at The Vale on Saturday, and not for the first time following a third successive Ryman Premier League draw of the new campaign.
‘We have now gifted five goals to the opposition and what’s more we should have won all three games’ said Bartlett. But the far from down beat boss also reminded fans that this is a Stones team that remains very much in transition and added that it will take a month for the team to ‘fully compliment each other’.
As for the match specifics, Bartlett was quick to point out the positives: ‘I saw lots of good things out there; we created many opportunities today and all them should have been put away – there were too many misses particularly late on in the second half when we were well on top’.
Wingate looked by far the brighter in the early stages and were quicker to the ball and winning out on most of the midfield battles. The away side’s pressure and high tempo play soon paid off when their striker Scott Shulton caught the Stones defence napping and poked past Jonathan North after only 8 minutes.
But Wealdstone showed their strong attacking potential by immediately hitting back through lone front man Chris Moore after Sean Cronin had lofted the ball back into space just outside the area finding Moore with time to rifle home past the outstretched glove of Bobby Smith.
Stones seemed to be consistently slow to react all over the park but the midfield was not functioning with sufficient cohesion to provide any real bite with the diminutive Jack Hutchison working hard to impress against his former teammates, but with limited end product alongside Adam Martin who was unusually subdued as was the on looking Vale crowd of 425.
The home side’s main attacking threat came from the right flank where the dangerous Tom Pett caused panic in the Wingate defence whenever he wriggled free and his powerful strike was just over on the 20 minute mark.
But Stones control in the midfield areas let them down again soon after when former loanee Leon Smith was allowed too much time to lash home to take Wingate back into the lead.
To their credit Stones came roaring back demonstrating some sustained pressure and they grabbed a smart equaliser 3 minutes before the break. Pett received the ball and scored with a superb angled drive past Wingate’s competent keeper Smith.
The introduction of Stones new signing, former Premiership player Glenn Little who had finally gained international clearance the previous day, steadied the midfield in the second half as Wingate now showed far less in attack. But with a continuing stuttering performance Wealdstone just couldn’t produce a winner despite several gilt edged chances, not least from subs Scott McGleish who drove wide when very well placed and, earlier, the lively and newly contracted Reece Grant .
The final play of the match summed up Stones somewhat torrid afternoon when they were agonisingly denied by the post from a corner. Wes Parker got up well and a goal looked certain but it was not to be – but at least this time Wingate failed to take all the points in another disappointing encounter with the North London side.
Stones will be looking to up the anti when they travel to Hampton & Richmond Borough on Tuesday evening, 20th August, and then to local rivals Harrow Borough at Earlsmead on Saturday, 24th. Next home match is Bank Holiday Monday v Enfield Town, 26th August.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Parker, Cronin, Hutchinson, Dean, Martin, Moore, Godfrey, Pett. Subs used: Little, McGleish, Grant. Not used: Siva, Bailey.
Match Report by Nick DuGard