Another massively frustrating end to a match that Stones could and should have won but lost painfully when they conceded two late goals having held high flying Wood for all of 86 minutes. Stones grabbed a 12th minute goal from Johnny Wright and defended magnificently until the pressure and quality of the home side proved too much and two goals in three minutes gut wrenchingly undid all the good work.
Wealdstone were always going to be under the cosh against one of the best sides in the division that features top scorer Lee Angol and a host of quality players now well versed in the ways and demands of Conference South football.
Stones remain third from bottom after Saturday’s programme but have worryingly played as many as three games more than their fellow strugglers. Stones ambitions may currently be limited to finishing third from bottom of the league in what is already a season of rude awakenings.
But despite this defeat there are clear signs of a growing improvement across the team that is now far more competitive but still lacks the knowledge and decision making qualities of their battle hardened and big budgeted opponents.
Wealdstone defended stoically for most of the game with Jon North in outstanding form at Meadow Park and had enough chances to have won the game which is a big plus in itself compared to the meek performances of September. But Stones supporters on Saturday, outnumbering the pathetically sized home attendance in an excellent stadium, will continue to be really concerned at the ‘late goal against’ tally as will the management team – in abundance.
Stones lined up in their familiar away formation of 4-5-1 and started brightly taking the game to their hosts and pressing tightly. They took the lead when Connor Calcutt knocked a ball down across the box and in stole Johnny Wright who lobbed gleefully over keeper James Russell.
Wood soon came piling back and won the first of multiple corners – all of which were poorly executed and well-defended by the upbeat away side. Wood’s main danger man amongst many was proving to be ex Watford midfielder Matt Whichelow and his strike was well held by North. Calcutt was almost in again but was closed out by strong defending and the excellent former Stone Josh Hill.
The home side, stung by the goal were now in the ascendancy but continually either wasted possession or were shut out by Stones solid back line in which Ryan Watts was outstandingly tenacious.
North then saved Stones twice in succession with wonderful full stretch saves. The home corner count continued to mount as Stones kept their lead and remained able to break forward on occasions before the break.
The second period was always going to be a backs against the wall scenario and so it proved with Wood frustrating what little home support there was – amazingly so for a top side.
Stones continued to work tremendously hard in the midfield with Brown and Hickey catching the eye with Matt Ball providing some decent forward passes.
Calcutt’s diving header from a wide kick could have sewn up the game for Stones but Russell saved brilliantly. With the pressure ratcheting up considerably Stones dropped deeper and deeper with fewer forays up field, although Shaun Lucien still probed and teased when he could down the flanks.
Now in driving rain, Stones were just about holding out but the signs were ominous. Nonetheless, with a few minutes remaining a win or at least a draw looked increasingly likely. But following a desperately defended scramble in the box the pressure finally told as Angol netted on 87 minutes.
Stones focus and concentration looked suspect for the first time and they paid a horrible price on 90 minutes when Sam Cox shot past the despairing dive of North to apocalyptically takeall the points as they celebrated wildly.
Stones must now lick their wounds once again and wait until Monday week for their next league encounter when they travel to Chelmsford City where points are needed. Big style.
Wealdstone: North, Martin, Watts, Parker ©, Cronin, Hickey, Wright, Ball, Calcutt, Brown, Lucien. Subs used: Godfrey, Turner, N/u: McGleish, Hammond, Hamblin.
Attendance: 537 (300 Wealdstone)