Ebbsfleet United 2 Wealdstone 3
By Nick DuGard
A hugely spirited performance at moneyed league leaders Ebbsfleet United gave Wealdstone a richly deserved three points and with it the perfect preparation for next Saturdays gigantean FA Cup task at the Freebets.co.uk Stadium when they face League 1 outfit Colchester United.
The clash was only two minutes old when Stones grabbed a fantastic goal. New signing from rivals Hemel Hempstead Town, Matty Harriott, scored with his first touch after Fleet failed to clear their lines and the ball sat up for Harriott at the edge of the area; the former Northampton midfielder lashed a superb effort past Brandon Hall leaving the bewildered keeper helpless.
Stones again seized the initiative and Bradley Hudson-Odoi moved clear but had the ball whipped away from him just as big Jefferson Louis moved in for kill.
Fleet gradually settled and passed the ball well as befits their league status and Stones started to get hemmed in their own half. The home side were incensed when they had a goal disallowed but soon equalised when Joe Howe’s cross was met by the head of DannyHaynes who glanced a header out of North’s reach and into the top corner.
The Stones’ defence was now under pressure as Fleet looked to build on their goal. Matt Fish found John-Paul Kissock whose strike went just wide, while Lewis and Kissock sent shots wide of the mark while Kedwell’s effort forced North to claw away for a corner.
The Stones defended stoutly and the referee brandished several yellows and with perhaps discretion the better part of valour Dale Binns was substituted after picking up a card 10 minutes from the break.
United would have looked to have pushed on but it was the visitors that regained the upperhand going into the break. The in– form Hudson-Odoi got behind the Fleet defence to go one-on-one with Hall who did well to block. But Hudson-Odoi was soon again in the thick of the action and when his strike ran loose, Louis squared to the far post where Harriott added to his dream debut with a second goal much to the delight of the travelling faithful
A few minutes into the second period and Stones good work was quickly undone. After a let off when a long range effort smashed off North’s post, Godden headed past North for 2-2.
The expected onslaught came as Ebbsfleet sensed a turnaround and pressed hard to take the lead for the first time in the contest.
Several efforts went wide or were well defended as Stones weathered the storm with great fortitude.
But Wealdstone kept probing and this tireless work eventually paid a huge dividend. The winner came when Shaun Lucien set up the goal on 64 minutes. Lucien got the better of Fish on the byline and crossed where Louis was perfectly placed at the far post to sweep home
The home side appeared shell shocked and failed to summon up sufficient threat to pull the game back again even with a ludicrous six minutes of added time to play with. Stones held out for a magnificent victory and in the process moved up two priceless places in the table with confidence levels on a high for next week’s showpiece and televised Cup tie.
FA Cup tickets can be purchased now via www.wfcmegastore.co.uk or pay at the gate. Fans are urged to arrive early!
Wealdstone: North, McLeod-Urquhart, Binns (Duffy 35), Parker, Hamblin, Corcoran, Lucien (Hutchinson 83), Harriott (Ball 71), Louis, Davies, Hudson-Odoi.