Wealdstone Manager Gordon Bartlett was a disappointed man after this surprisingly lacklustre performance from Stones on Saturday and with his usual candour knew he had his fair share of luck to gain even a point:
‘We played our get out of jail card today without doubt’ he said ‘We looked flat for much of the game but I was pleased with our persistence, we kept going and grabbed a point but all credit to Hendon who had the majority of possession. ‘You will inevitably have days like this but we move on and look forward to another derby game on Monday’
Although this match was billed as a local derby – indeed history will bear this out when the two sides used to draw huge holiday crowds – times have changed to the extent that Hendon could barely muster a total of 30 fans in a decent Vale crowd of nearly 700.
Stones looked out of sorts almost from the kick off as Sean Cronin slipped on the heavy surface allowing Anthony Thomas a run at goal. The home side gradually got going though and forced a couple of early corners.
Stones first chance to make a breakthrough came after 10 minutes when Tom Pett won the ball out wide and sent over a perfect cross for Michael Malcolm but his firm header flew just wide.
The spirited Greens closed down Stones, pressed aggressively and looked compact all over the park, showing some decent pace on the flanks.
Tony Taggart should have netted on 20 minutes when he had a clear strike at goal but North did just enough to close the angle and the shot went wide of the far post.
Stones then literally took a blow when Tom Hamblin went down following a clash of heads and eventually had to be substituted with suspected concussion.
When a free kick was won in a good position outside the area Glen Little was unlucky to strike the outside of the post.
Jerome Okimo moved into central defence but this tactic appeared to cut off any attacking threat down the left flank and was later changed. Stones tried hard to get attacks going with Glen Little probing to find Pett but most failed to come off as the Greens defence held firm.
Playing down the slope in the second half the subdued crowd were hoping for a change in fortunes and early on Little’s great through ball to Malcolm ought to have delivered more.
Hendon began to assume more control of possession and Stones looked increasing vulnerable as their midfield conceded ground. Jon North pulled off the first of several outstanding saves to prevent Greens finding the net but he could do nothing on 63 minutes when, from a decent cross, Taggart was unmarked at the far post and drilled in. It had been coming.
Wealdstone again had North to thank for keeping them alive but as things became increasing bleak for Stones they conjured up an unlikely but hugely welcome equaliser with 7 minutes left on the clock that involved two substitutes.
Stefan Bailey competed well in the middle to charge down a ball which found Jonny Wright and he clipped a scuffer that found the back of the net past the despairing dive of Joe McDonnell.
Suddenly the belief flowed back into Wealdstone and they ripped into Hendon for a while but couldn’t conjure up a second. To their credit Hendon hit back after a stoppage and could have grabbed a winner themselves in added time.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin ©, Godfrey, Little, Pigden, McGleish, Malcolm, Pett. Subs used: McCubbin, Bailey, Wright. N/u; Bentley, McCluskey,
William Hill MoM: Jonathan North