Although Wealdstone further strengthened their position at the top end of the Ryman Premier League at a beleaguered Colston Avenue on Saturday, this match proved once again that each game, no matter the opponent, will be an intensive battle in its own right.
A brace apiece from striker Michael Malcolm and midfielder Stefan Bailey saw Stones home in an untidy and attritional struggle that kept the 210 away following tense until the latter stages of the second half, by which time the home side had run out of steam and attacking threat.
The heavy, pudding like pitch, a shadow of its former condition at The War Memorial Ground made the going challenging as balls went astray with an awkward bounce and control was at a premium throughout.
But Stones made an immediate breakthrough with their first attack on the Robin’s goal. Some deft trickery from Pett created the chance for Malcolm to steal in and head past keeper Michael White at close range. Stones appeared to fall into the comfort zone as the home side, to their credit upped the ante and battled back with their basic but effective tactic of graft and long ball.
After just 12 minutes Stones were rocked when, from a quick break down the left flank created by sloppy midfield play, Carshalton equalised when Jason Henry nipped in with a header with Jonathan North exposed with the speed of the delivery.
The Robins sensed that Stones were vulnerable and pressed on and were beginning to make life distinctly uncomfortable for Gordon Bartlett’s men.
A scrappy war of attrition developed with neither side able to wrest any real control with Stones losing possession too cheaply and resorting to hasty clearances with long balls failing to reach Scott McGleish who nevertheless lead the line with his usual gusto.
But out of the blue Stones found themselves momentarily back in front. With two minutes remaining Pett finally wriggled clear of a stubborn defence and sent over a fine ball to Malcolm whose strike arrowed unerringly into the far corner.
The home again came back and forced North into a brilliant one handed save but once again sloppy defensive work allowed the Robins to go into the half time break on level terms. A corner was conceded with seconds to go and Paris Hamilton-Downes netted with some ease at the near post.
The game turned again a mere two minutes in the second period. A rejuvenated looking Stones attacked from the off and from James Hammond’s whipped in cross Bailey got in front and powered in to head past a flailing White.
The home side continued to battle away but Wealdstone’s superior passing and control made its mark and they finally took over the midfield; the game now ebbed away from the league strugglers.
Wealdstone wrapped up the points on 75 minutes when Bailey stooped to head home once again for a rare but very welcome double celebration.
Worryingly Bailey had to later hobble off with a nasty looking injury and he must be doubtful for this week’s fixtures.
So Stones roll on and again were able to take full advantage of remarkable and continuing slip ups by Maidstone and Dulwich who must now be looking over their shoulders at the likes of Bognor and Lowestoft.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin ©, Godfrey, Bailey, Pigden, McGleish, Pett, Malcolm. Subs used: McCluskey, Bentley, Little. N/u: Siva, McCubbin.
Match Report by Nick DuGard