Stones travelled to Hayes Lane on Saturday in their first Ryman Premier away fixture since early September looking to do the double over Cray Wanderers. Having steamrollered the Wands earlier in the season anyone thinking that this would be a walk in the park was mistaken. The hosts were a different proposition on their own turf with a changed management team providing a much more resilient, energetic and robust approach. Stones lined up with Jonathan North in goal with two banks of four, Johnny Wright in the ‘hole’ behind Scott McLeish as the sole forward.
The first half was very much huff and puff from both sides with Stones shading possession, lots neat passing but with little real end product.
Matters livened up considerably in a two minute spell just before the break when the Wands defender, Day, was rightly booked for a crude foul on Tom Pett when in possession baring down the middle of the pitch towards the home goal; Stones’ Jay Siva went into the book for what looked an awkward lunge for the ball as the home side broke-out from defence. Just before half time, a glimmer of incisive football resulted in McGleish powering in a volley that went just wide.
The 120 travelling Stones fans hoped for a better second half , with the introduction of Stefan Bailey and Jerome Okimo for Luke Pigden and Jey Siva there was little discernable change initially. However as the game wore on Stones were starting to pin the home team back and create chances, first from the industrious Elliott Godfrey and then a free-kick from Bailey.
The home side, whilst still competing well, offered little up front and North was a spectator for long periods. The first goal arrived on 66 minutes when a corner was won the right, Godfrey played the ball in which was flicked on by Wright where the alert McGleish pounced and put a bullet header past the home keeper from just outside the six yard box. The goal somewhat deflated the home side and Stones now continued to have the better of the play and chances.
The second goal came from a penalty on 78 minutes; a Tom Pett shot was blocked by the arm of a Wands defender just inside the box. The match official was more interested in issuing a yellow card to the protesting Clark who appeared to complain quite loudly at the decision as opposed to issuing a second yellow to the original offender. When calm had been restored skipper Sean Cronin stepped up and placed the penalty to the keepers left much to the delight of the Stones faithful behind the goal.
The game was up, the home side continued to battle, Stones playing a little more relaxed football running down the clock. With the game almost at an end, goal number three arrived on 88 minutes, substitute Peter Dean played the ball in from the right to the feet of the effervescent McGleish who in a single movement pinged the ball up with his left foot to place an un-stoppable shot into the net with his right foot which the home custodian could only flap at.
Overall not pretty, but if Stones want to get out of this league they will undoubtedly have to grind out results like this on occasion. The win sees Stones move up to 4th place in the League.
After the match Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett revealed that striker Lewis Putman’s operation went well last week and the medics say that he’ll be free to start training early in the New Year. Meanwhile, Scott McCubbin has been told to rest his injured ankle until early December and in other player news, Jack Hutchinson has dual signed with Beaconsfield SYCOB, while he awaits an operation on his troublesome shoulder injury.
Next up: Leiston are the visitors at The Vale next Saturday, 23rd November kick-off 3.00pm – Ryman League Premier Division.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Siva, Hamblin, Cronin Godfrey, Pett, Bentley, Wright, McGleish, Pigden. Subs (used) Bailey, Okimo, Dean. N/u: Moore, Little
Attendance: 226 (Wealdstone 120)
Match Report by Alan Hill