Vanarama Conference South leaders Basingstoke Town grabbed an unlikely 93rd minute winner at The Vale on Saturday in a hugely absorbing game leaving the home side gutted. A single moment of untypically poor defending from a wonderfully committed home side allowed Dragons defender David Ray to head home unmarked at the death.
Rapidly improving Stones defied their lowly league position and took the game to their lofty visitors from kick-off. In fact after only one minute the lively Joe Turner went on a mazy run but his eventual strike was comfortably saved by Stuart Moore. The away side hit back and only a block from Tom Hamblin prevented a goal bound strike from hitting the target.
But Stones are improving as a side rapidly and their play continued in a very positive vein pushing the visitors back but also defending competently. Ryan Watts performed very well throughout for the home side and did brilliantly to head away for a corner after 15 minutes play. Dragon’s Simon Dunn looked threatening at times for the visitors on the few occasions he managed to wriggle free.
Wealdstone’s veteran striker Scott McGleish, although largely isolated up front for much of the first half managed to loose off two decent strikes as a highly competitive half of few chances concluded.
The second half opened up far more as a spectacle for the 813 crowd andimmediately saw Stones back on the offensive. But Dragons were quick to counter attack with some neat possession but Stones almost shot themselves in the foot when a stray back pass from Sean Cronin almost proved costly but North blocked brilliantly.
Turner’s smart header from a great Daniel Brown cross just lacked sufficient power and Moore saved on 58 minutes as the tempo of the game rose considerably.
Shaun Lucien now came alive on the wing and was causing all sorts of problems for the Dragon’s defence but his excellent crosses weren’t converted.
But Stones heartbreakingly paid the price in the final seconds undoing all their excellent work after they had lost possession and conceded a needless corner
After the match Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett said: ‘I am gutted and that really hurt. We gave away possession right at the death and gave them a free header. But there were massive positives today. Basingstoke are top the league and we edged the game and a point was the least we deserved so I have to be bitterly disappointed; when you are at the bottom you don’t get the rub of the green’
Jason Bristow, Basingstoke Manager said: ‘We were not at our best today but our spirit and belief carried us through. It was a tough game and I don’t expect Wealdstone to be at the bottom end of the table for long’