Wealdstone made their eagerly awaited debut in the Vanarama Conference South with an exhilarating but hard fought encounter with Eastbourne Borough at The Vale on Saturday. And whilst they lived on the edge and defended heroically for long periods in the second half also surviving a penalty they will still be disappointed with just the point as the visitors snatched a dramatic 90th minute equaliser scored by sub Dean Bown. Stones took the lead midway through the first half through midfielder Luke Pigden who finished magnificently.
Stones started very brightly and looked to have more attacking threat than the visitors whose pre match preparations were disrupted by a late arrival due to traffic problems. Scott McGleish for Stones had the first real chance when a great flick-on by the dynamic Johnny Wright created the opportunity for the experienced striker to get clear but his effort blasted over.
The Sports hit back and the bustling Richard Pacquette found himself with space but hit wide of the mark. Eastbourne were looking threatening down the flanks but the Stones back line defended tremendously well to keep their strikers at bay.
Wealdstone just couldn’t make the breakthrough following increased pressure and more close efforts but finally a great ball from Michael Malcolm found Pigden 25 yards out and he lashed superbly past keeper Lewis Carey. But it was a different story in the second period as the visitors laid siege to the Stones goal but found Wealdstone keeper Jonathan North in outstanding form pulling off several brilliant stops – no more so than when he got down to save a well struck 58th minute penalty kick from Dean Sinclair.
Stones were putting their bodies on the line and survived corner after corner as Eastbourne piled on the pressure. Stones could only break out effectively on one or two occasion as they parked the bus but Tom Hamblin was unlucky not to increase his side’s lead when he threw himself at a corner ball at the far post late on.
But something had to give and The Sports got the point they deserved in the dying seconds of the match when Bown leapt at the far post to jubilantly net after more good work from the tricky wide man Gavin McCallum who had been a thorn in the Stones side all afternoon.
After the match Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett said:’ We are frustrated at the time of the goal but the character of the side when we were under the cosh for long periods was outstanding and has carried over from last season. The bottom line is that Eastbourne deserved a point as we just couldn’t get a foothold in the second half as we defended deeper and deeper’
Tommy Widdrington the Eastbourne Manager said: ‘We are pleased with the point particularly with the difficult pre-match preparation and with so many of our players missing. Their goalkeeper made save after save but we kept going and got the point we deserved at the very least’
Wealdstone: North, Mills, Martin,Hamblin, Cronin, Godfrey, Wright, Pigden, McGleish, Hickey, Malcolm Subs used: Turner, Hammond N/u: Parker, Collins,Little
Eastbourne Boro: Carey, Hamilton, Khindra, Sinclair, Lovett, Aldred, McCallum, Lok, Pacquette, Johnson, Worrall Subs used: Walker, Bown
Scorers: Wealdstone: Luke Pigden, 30 mins Eastbourne Borough: Dean Bown 90 mins
By Nick DuGard
Steve Foster Pics HERE
Video Highlights HERE
Ref :Mr A Serrano
William Hill MoM: Johnny Wright (Wealdstone)