Wealdstone’s truly miserable record against Bath City continued at a dismal Vale on Tuesday evening (9th Sep). But this Stones performance had nothing to do with hoodoos and ‘the rub of the green’; this was a shockingly awful display against the bottom side in the league. No excuses offered or needed.
Admittedly Wealdstone had their main striker Scott McGleish sent off in the second half for an outrageously simulated ‘foul’ but the hugely experienced talisman should not have bought himself a totally unnecessary yellow card for dissent earlier in the half – even though it was borne out of pure frustration.
We are being told not to panic. But with eight games played and zero wins the situation is surely now serious by any standards with a Wealdstone side looking increasingly bereft of ideas, attacking nous and confidence. The simple truth, plainly evident on Tuesday is that the current Wealdstone side lacks the key ingredients of the quality of the side that swept all before them in the Ryman Premier last season. And this is a much tougher and far less forgiving league.
Stones ambitions may already be limited to finishing third from bottom of a reduced Vanarama Conference South; that would be an achievement worth savouring because to throw away what has taken nigh on 20 years to achieve would be wholly unforgiveable. Drastic surgery may be not be an unreasonable diagnosis but for practicable purposes it is unlikely to happen in the short term at least.
As for the details of the game, former Chelsea midfielder Nikki Ahamed was brought back into the Stones starting line up following his return from German football. Whilst Ahamed displays admirable close skills his forward attacking drive was limited on a night when such qualities were badly needed.
The first half was largely uninspiring and scrappy with both sides looking inhibited by their respective league positions. However, City looked to be there for the taking with an unusually diminutive and fragile looking defence but Stones failed to take advantage with their frustratingly impotent attacks and lack of sharp movement when it mattered. Jack Mills did have a couple of good forays down the right flank but these came to nought; McGleish headed wide from one cross into the box. The Romans rarely threatened but held the ball up well enough on occasions when they broke. Against the run of play and possession they nevertheless took the lead in the 37th minute from a clever overhead kick from Ross Stearn. Jonathan North then came to the rescue – and this wouldn’t be for the first time as the half concluded.
Ahamed almost snatched an equaliser virtually from the re-start when he struck the upright but he could pounce quickly enough onto the rebound. Luke Pigden looked better value as a second half substitute and one of few players to emerge with credit. After the disaster of McGleish’s sending off as Bath’s Dan Fell screamed in agony convincingly enough for the Official to brandish a second yellow, the writing appeared to be on the wall. Discipline and shape went awry as play became increasingly desperate with Sean Cronin also being booked.
Bath eventually took advantage of the extra man after several escapes when David Pratt netted unchallenged from a quick break down the slope. Stones did keep going and substitute Michael Malcolm scored a cracking consolation with a curling strike with a minute of added time remaining but this only served to increase the frustrations of what might have been.
We live in belief and hope but things surely have to change …and soon.
Wealdstone: North, Mills, Bihmoutine, Hamblin, Cronin, Martin, Ahamed, Hickey, McGleish, Wright, O’Nien. Subs used: Pigden, Malcolm, Bola. N/u: Godfrey, Turner.