This pulsating Monday evening match between top and near bottom of the league was a superb advert for non league football. It was a feisty, enthralling clash that had virtually everything a game can offer including the controversial and bizarre sending off of both Managers after a fracas in front of the dugouts during a Battle Royale in the second period. This must be another first for Gordon Bartlett in his long career in football but not one he will be able to easily explain.
After their hugely precious win and three points at the weekend at Weston, Stones faced the gigantean task of dealing with table topping and in form Havant – a side full of experience and quality players including former Stone Scott Donnelly.
Jimmy Hammond and Scott McGleish scored wonderful goals and both were superbly made with Shaun Lucien assists and the former Boro wide player was outstanding on the night, rightly named William Hill MoM.
The task looked all the more the difficult before kick off when powerful centre half Tom Hamblin wasn’t available to start and Jimmy Hammond stepped into the breach. Otherwise the Stones line up was the same and that did so well on Saturday.
Wealdstone took the game by the scruff of the neck from the first whistle and Tom Hickey was unlucky to see his strike cleared off the line after only 3 minutes play following good work from new boys Daniel Brown and Shaun Lucien. Stones tempo and movement was in complete contrast to recent limp home displays and it didn’t let up in a match played out in a great atmosphere.
But the Hawks soon hit back and showed their table topping credentials with Josh Huggins drawing a great save from Jonathan North. But instead of dropping back and allowing their opponents to take control, Stones now turned the tables and drove on with waves of quick attacks prompted by Luke O’Nien and Lucien down the right flank.
McGleish, as lively as ever, went close and then Brown flicked a header wide as Stones competed magnificently and in the process were starting to rattle their lofty visitors who had clearly been surprised by their hosts movement and competiveness.
Stones deservedly took the lead on 24 minutes with a brilliantly executed finish. Lucien broke free, jinked, and fired in a great cross that Hammond powered in giving Ryan Young no chance. Stones tails were now well and truly up but Hawks looked a threat on the break and JJ Hooper almost got clear as the visitor’s sharp ball retention always looked likely to deliver problems. Hawks ended the half marginally on top as Hammond blocked a powerful strike.
Stones started the second period as brightly as the first and O’Nien was unlucky with a snap 20 yard strike that Young could only parry but no one was on hand to follow up.
But disaster struck 6 minutes after the re-start. The dangerous Hooper got clear of Jack Mills and shot past an exposed North for 1-1.
As the stakes rose, tempers heightened accordingly and the tackles started to fly in. Donnelly was indeed fortunate to stay on the pitch as a fracas started in front of the dugouts. With most in the ground expecting a red card for one or two players it was Gordon Bartlett and Lee Bradbury that were seen trudging off to the tunnel together with Bartlett receiving a huge ovation from the increasingly boisterous Bulla end.
Stones roared back and showed no signs of recent capitulations. Lucien was the instigator once again and his wicked deflected cross was met in the goal mouth by McGleish who headed gleefully home cueing mayhem in the Bulla.
But a mere 4 minutes later a needless free kick given away outside the box by the enthusiasm of O’Nien led to a great free kick from Donnelly that left North, for once, helpless. With 15 minutes to go Stones looked truly vulnerable for the first time and North was called upon to make a fantastic tip over save . Temper flared up again as Hickey and sub Bradley Bubb were booked but Stones held on for a point which was the very least they deserved but which would have been gratefully accepted before kick off.
Wealdstone: North, Mills, Watts, Hammond, Cronin ©, Godfrey, Lucien, Hickey, McGleish, Brown, O’Nien. Subs used: Turner, Wright, Pigden. N/u: Hamblin, Showunmi.
William Hill MoM: James Hammond.