Match Report by Jon Batham: Saturday, 26 September 2015: FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round: Wealdstone 1 Biggleswade Town 1
Gordon Bartlett acknowledged fans’ frustration in the wake of Saturday’s FA Cup draw with Biggleswade. However, he advised the ‘sign another striker’ lobby that was something easier said than done.
Bartlett and the Stones’ faithful endured another day of squandered chances, meaning a second half defensive catastrophe left them needing to head up the A1 for a replay on Tuesday night.
This time the pairing of Connor Calcutt and Bradley-Hudson Odoi were the chief culprits in front of goal. A small number of fans voiced their dissent at the end, but while Bartlett had no problem with their display of passion he emphasized the firepower they want to fix the problem simply may not be on the market.
“The players got the fans’ opinion and they can’t hide from it because the fans are just as frustrated as we are so when they voice their opinion you have to accept it,” he said.
“That is what you get when you have got fans at a club of this level, so I’ve no problem with what they said.
“I thought we were comfortably the better side first half and probably should have gone in two or three up, but we just seemed to stop playing in the second half. We’ve hit the woodwork twice, but once they scored which was almost the only strike Jonathan had to save, they were better than us after that.
“There have been times when we haven’t created opportunities and when we have we’ve missed them.There are a lot of strikers out there, but not a lot of what you would call natural goalscorers, so we will keep working at it.”
There were five changes from last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Basingstoke with recalls for Carl Martin, Tom Cadmore, Shaun Lucien and Connor Calcutt, while loanee Matt Lowe made his first start in midfield.
With their Southern League visitors making a nervy start, chances were not in short supply, but the opportunities were not taken.
Hudson-Odoi had the first sight of goal with just four minutes on the clock, but shot weakly at Town keeper Ian Brown.
Matt Ball, who had an excellent game for an hour, soon sent the striker racing clear once more, but he hesitated instead of shooting and the chance was gone.
Just seconds later Ball was the architect again, dinking a cross onto the head of the unmarked Calcutt, but from just six yards out he planted his header onto the bar.
There were then a couple of warning shots for Stones, first when Craig Daniels forced a save from Craig Daniels following Ian Rees’cross from the right and again when Shaun Hill’s drive from outside the box was cleared off the line.
Stones though were soon on the offensive once more when Calcutt’s shot was superbly blocked by Andrew Iwediuno, Tom Hamblin heading inches too high from the resulting corner.
Then it was Lowe’s turn to catch the eye with a burst between two defenders, but having done the hard part he failed to hit the target.
Tony Burnett curled inches wide at the other end before three minutes before half time Stones found the goal they had promised.
It was a disaster for Town keeper Brown who allowed Lucien’s ball from the right to slip beyond his grasp and Ball pounced to stab home at the far post.
Hudson-Odoi might have doubled the lead a minute later, but his shot across the keeper went just the wrong side of the far post meaning it was a slender advantage at the break.
The second half began in similar fashion, Ball heading into the side netting and Calcutt seeing a venemous shot beaten out by Brown as Stones continued to dictate.
However, the chances went begging and while Town were offering little going forward unease increased among the now silent Stones’ fans, before defensive calamity struck on 64 minutes.
A long punt forward seemed harmless enough, but the retreating Cadmore and advancing North failed to communicate and when the ball was allowed to bounce, Sam Merson, son of Arsenal legend Paul, nipped in to lob over the stranded keeper.
Both sides could have won it with Merson lashing another shot inches wide, while three minutes from time Hudson-Odoi’s thunderous drive crashed to safety off the woodwork.
Just to cap a miserable day for Stones Cadmore limped off in stoppage time with an ankle problem likely to sideline him for some weeks.
His teammates will hope for better in Tuesday’s replay.