Wealdstone finally and unexpectedly got a game on Saturday after another horrendous two week of storms and more frustrating fixture postponements.
This wonderfully hard fought victory, albeit against a struggling Thamesmead Town side, was made all the more sweeter as most of the top sides in the Ryman Premier fell apart leaving the way open for Stones to claw back valuable ground on leaders Maidstone United and Dulwich Hamlet. Wealdstone remain in 3rd position but now 5 points behind their top rivals but, crucially, still with 4/5 games in hand.
Stones could have been forgiven for looking rusty going into this match, but as against Bury Town at The Vale back in January after another long lay-off the players looked fresh and eager to do the business. Goals in each half from Michael Malcolm and skipper Sean Cronin sealed the win.
String-puller-in-chief Glen Little was unavailable for this match but the midfield coped admirably with man of the match Elliott Godfrey in excellent form. A depleted bench contained new signing Sebastian Schoburgh an experienced right sided wide player who has seen service at Hayes & Yeading and more recently Tonbridge Angels.
Thamesmead have rightly been given full credit for getting the game on but incredibly sticky conditions under foot were still very challenging and with added problem of swirling high winds this could have made the game a complete lottery.
The hosts never really recovered from a disastrous start as a great cross from James Hammond was volleyed home by striker Malcolm after barely two minutes play. Stones quickly assumed control of the midfield and were able to contain a Mead attack that lacked a cutting edge throughout. The best that the home side could muster in the first half was a header from Junior Baker. Stones defence looked as solid as it has done all season.
Wealdstone should have doubled their lead before the break but Tom Pett’s great run and strike was well saved by keeperSam Mott. Pett had an unlucky afternoon as his penetrating runs deserved at least one or two conversions.
In the second period Stones ascendancy continued in the increasingly difficult conditions and on 57 minutes they won a penalty. Luke Pigden’s mazy run was halted by a clumsy challenge in the box and Cronin made no mistake from the resultant spot kick.
Unlike previous matches, Stones were never under enough pressure to even look like conceding and they saw out the remainder of the match with some comfort to take the points and, just as importantly, keep up the pressure on the top two.
Stones have another opportunity to show their title credentials on Monday evening (17 February) when they face promotion rivals AFC Hornchurch in a titanic match at The Vale. Kick off 7.45pm.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin, Godfrey, Malcolm, Pigden, McGleish, Wright, Pett. Subs used: Bentley, Bailey. Other subs: McCluskey, Schoburgh
Attendance: 195 (Wealdstone 140)
Match Report by Nick DuGard