Match Report by Nick DuGard: Monday, 15 February 2016: National League South: Wealdstone 2 Oxford City 2
These are challenging times indeed for the management team at Wealdstone. Injury upon injury to the squad and myriad unavailability – all against the backdrop of juggling with a budget that most step 4 clubs would struggle to work with. But adversity is often the name of the game at Wealdstone and whilst not always entirely character building it certainly does focus the mind
Monday night’s issues started at right back but Gordon Bartlett was probably more concerned with having a single centre-half with Wes Parker out of the reckoning so in came wily veteran Scott McLeish to fill an unfamiliar berth. In the event McGleish did wonderfully well using all his experience in reading the game to excellent effect against a very sharp Oxford City side going for a promotion slot. Also missing was midfield stalwart Elliott Godfrey who was unwell and Bartlett could only name four subs.
Up front new loan signing Marvin Morgan started ahead of Jefferson Louis and the rangy front man did enough to show that he can be a very capable hold up player and was very unlucky not to open his account early in the clash.
Squad availability issues apart, once again Stones ‘almost’ pulled off a remarkable win against a top side but perhaps ludicrously rather than unluckily lost their advantage with yet another late, late goal – this time in the 90th minute. So, an against-all- the-odds win was somehow – again, maddeningly frittered away.
This frustration must not however be allowed to mask what was otherwise an excellent performance from Stones who came within a whisker of a memorable win with their makeshift line up.
Stones started really well and could easily have been three up in the first 5 minutes of frantic play. Morgan brought a good save from City keeper Laurie Walker and his parried block brought Scott Davies into the action who vicious strike smashed off the upright.
City countered well and looked sharp and balanced in moving the ball around but then Morgan fell over when put clear. A minute later the lively Johnny Wright broke clear and smashed a shot off the far post. Stones were looking good in attack but it was clear that City’s probing runs from Bradley Bubb and Matt Whichelowe were going to give Stones makeshift back line some real problems
The home side were rocked on 35 minutes when a City forward was bundled over in the box and Bubb easily netted from the spot. Stones looked to be in trouble but two minutes later they won a free kick on the right. Davies’ excellent set piece was met by Bradley Hudson-Odoi whose header came off the back stanchion with force and flew out. For a horrible moment it looked like the officials may have been deceived as Walker mischievously claimed ‘no goal’ but the Assistant Referee was well placed and unhesitatingly gave it.
The second half started in much the same way as the first with Stones pushing forward with some slick passing across the park and with a good tempo.
Matt Ball hit wide as Stones continued to push up and Hudson-Odoi was finding more joy down the left flank now playing up the slope. City made changes as their first half fluency waned.
Stones found the net for 2-1 on 63 minutes when a glorious pass from Ball played in the dangerous Hudson-Odoi who strike had enough on it to squirm past Walker.
Stones worked tirelessly to hold the lead but carelessness again cost them dear. Loss of possession in the 90th minute allowed Whichelowe to send a firm looping strike over Joe Tayor for a sickening equaliser.
Most would have taken a point before the match but as ever it is the manner of the loss of points and not the actual result which is the bitterest of pills to have to swallow.
Wright was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence to compound a disappointing end to a match which had promised to overcome the odds.
Wealdstone:Taylor, McLeod-Urquhart, Binns, McGleish, Cadmore, Ball, Wright, Harriott, Morgan, Davies, Hudson-Odoi. Subs used: Louis for Morgan, Not used: Lucien, Orenuga, Maitrepierre.