Match Report by Nick DuGard: Saturday, 5 March 2016: National League South: Concord Rangers 2 Wealdstone 2
Wealdstone came away from a windswept Aspect Arena on Saturday with an unlikely but hard fought draw – remarkably their seventh stalemate in ten games.
Fortunately for Stones other teams have their problems and most of the lower ranked teams in the Vanarama National League South dropped points, enabling Stones to maintain a tenuous four point gap ahead of the drop zone.
This match saw the debut of new ‘keeper James Bransgrove who was signed on a month’s youth loan the previous day from Colchester United. The young stopper acquitted himself well in difficult conditions.
In an attempt to combat the physicality of the in-form Beachboys, and missing the mercurial Johnny Wright through suspension, Stones unusually played two up front in the combined towering shapes of Jefferson Louis and Marvin Morgan. The experiment didn’t work but, as they say, it was worth a try. The game was a dour struggle but credit must be given to Wealdstone who again displayed excellent fighting spirit to rescue a lost looking cause.
Stones had a couple of half chances early doors and Louis should have done better from 20 yards but his strike flew wide.
The home side had started the game slowly, but with their first real attack they took the lead on 13 minutes. Top striker Steve Cawley poked the ball home from six yards.
The opening goal livened up the Beachboys and after Lewis Taaffe was brought down right on the edge of the box, the resulting free kick was met with a decent header by Alex Osborn and Bransgrove did well to tip it away.
Playing with the wind the BeachBoys probed again on 22 minutes and Jay Dowie stung the hands of young Bransgrove. Concord were now edging the battle in a tight encounter with most of the play confined to a far from pretty midfield scrap, with both teams struggling to create any sustained periods of real pressure or creativity. As the end of a largely forgettable first period, Wealdstone had their best chance to level. Marvin Morgan powered past Steve King and his pass found the on-rushing Scott Davies and his fierce strike was saved by Ben McNamara.
The Beachboys began the second period on the offensive and there was more threat about their attacking play. On 49 minutes Osborn tested the reflexes of Bransgrove again, as the Wealdstone keeper pushed away his curling effort.
Rangers should have increased their lead when firstly Dowie’s shot was blocked and Cawley blasted over when well placed. Stones were now well and truly under the cosh.
The home side were not to be denied for much longer and soon doubled their lead. From a corner Steve King rose highest and his powerful header flew into the onion bag.
But to their credit Wealdstone rallied and pulled a goal back – and with it, hope. A long free kick was slung into the box, and as King and Morgan battled for the ball, it fell nicely to Jefferson Louis 6 yards out and he gleefully rifled home.
Wealdstone now had the impetus and with the wind at their backs pushed forward using all three of their substitutes. On 77 minutes, Wealdstone won another free kick on the left flank at least 35 yards from goal. Scott Davies did what he has been threatening to do all season and crafted a superb albeit wind assisted worldy into the net for the equaliser
Concord were rocked, and it was the away side now searching for a winning goal. Bradley Hudson-Odoi was an ever increasing threat, and his excellent effort was saved by McNamara with 6 minutes left on the clock.
This was a point gained for Stones but they will know that with tougher games to come improvement is high on their agenda
Wealdstone: Bransgrove, Urquhart, Binns, Parker, Cadmore, Godfrey, Davies, Harriott, Louis, Morgan, Hudson-Odoi. Subs used: Orenuga, Lucien, McGleish. N/u: Ball, Taylor (GK)