Wealdstone finally succumbed to only their second league defeat of the season in front of their highest gate of the season so far at The Vale (833) against an improving Hampton & RB side that sat 16th in the table prior to the match – on this evidence a hugely false position.
Stones remain top of the table by a single point after this defeat and remarkably still 20 points ahead of their victors on the day.
The Beavers possess the leagues most in-form goal scorer – Charlie Moone – and he was to prove a handful all afternoon on Saturday in an absorbing game played out in mercifully excellent conditions before the next belt of rain hits the remainder holiday period.
Gordon Bartlett’s programme notes sounded a note of warning pre match, stating: ‘We all got a lot of plaudits last weekend after the victory against Maidstone took us to the top of the league but let’s not get carried away. We are there to be shot at and now we have to deal with the expectations as well’
There was a definite air of nervousness about this fixture but the reality was that the Beavers played a tight, highly effective, game and their win was founded on a rock solid defensive performance with their towering centre halves Darren Powell and Justyn Roberts outstanding to keep the Stones forwards at bay.
Wealdstone had all the pressure early on and Johnny Wright had a couple of decent chances but the away side always looked a threat on the
break with Luke Wanadio going close but home keeper Jonathan North was equal to the strike
Then a great dribble in the box from Glen Little found Sean Cronin who blasted over at the far post.
With Stones pressure mounting they took the lead. Wanadio inexplicably clipped Tom Pett who had his back to goal in the area. Cronin blasted home the resultant spot kick with ease.
But Hampton soon hit back and equalised on 35 minutes from Tom Hickey after a good assist from the lurking Moone.
A seminal point in the game occurred soon after when, with the game delicately poised, Beavers keeper Rodney Chiweshe handled outside the box to stop Wright who was in the clear and bearing down on goal but incredibly the officials waved play on, presumably, and generously, because both Referee and Assistant were unsighted.
The Hampton goal led a charmed life for a period as Stones piled on the heat but the away side rocked Stones when took the lead after the excellent Joe Turner found Charlie Moone of all people completely unmarked and his powerful strike arrowed past North just on half time – the killer blow as it turned out.
Stones tried hard to find a way past the away defence in a frustrating second period with Wright’s effort cleared off the line and Luke Pigden’s effort pinging off an upright but they got caught out on the counter when pushing forward and Turner was in acres of space to fire past North to ensure all the points and that, as they say, was that.
A set back, certainly not the end of the world, but Stones will need to get into top form as they face a punishing fixture schedule over next couple of weeks that will provide a stern test of their title ambitions.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin ©, Godfrey, Little, Pigden, McGleish, Wright, Pett. Subs used: Dean, Bawling, Siva. N/u: Moore, McCubbin.
William Hill MoM: Jerome Okimo.
Match Report by Nick DuGard