High flying Wealdstone travelled to Vauxhall Road yesterday afternoon to face fourth place Hemel Hempstead, as they aimed to extend their winning streak, after Tuesday evening’s hard fought victory against Chippenham Town.
First half goals from Michael Phillips and Dennon Lewis, along with a superb second half header from Jacob Mendy, secured an emphatic victory for the Stones, as they rose to first in the National League South.
The first 15 minutes of play were rather cagey, with both sides maintaining a compact and dynamic shape, as they looked to settle into the edgy contest.
Wealdstone were able to register their first shot within the second minute of play. A sweeping move from the visitors led to Nick Arnold and Phillips combining; with the latter, skilfully surging into the box, and dragging his effort just wide of the far post.
The Stones seized the lead in the 17th minute of the match, as Connor Smith whipped a fantastic cross into the box. The classy Phillips was quickest to react, latching onto the ball to convert past the Tudor’s goalkeeper Sam Beasant, for his first goal of the season.
Manager Dean Brennan was forced to make an early substitution for Wealdstone in the 37th minute, as the injured Smith was replaced by Mendy.
As the first half drew to a close, the Stones began to galvanise more goal scoring opportunities. Substitute Mendy made an immediate impact; denied only by the woodwork in the 41st minute, as he rifled a shot from the edge of the area, which smashed off of the crossbar.
Just before the stroke of half time, the Stones doubled their lead in an exquisite manner. The in-form Phillips, who had put in another storming performance in midfield, delivered a delightful cross from the right wing, finding Lewis at the back post, who clinically headed home past Beasant, to record his first goal for the Stones.
Returning for the second half, Wealdstone illustrated their winning intent, exhibiting attractive football, as they demonstrated slick passing and purposeful movement. This resulted in Arnold and Lewis striking goal bound efforts in the 47th and 50th minute, respectively.
Throughout the match, the imposing Lafayette lead the line for the visitors in impressive fashion, working tirelessly as a prominent outlet and target man for the Stones.
In the 73rd minute, Norwich loanee Aston Oxborough was called into action, as Isaac Galliford struck from the edge of the box; Wealdstone’s goalkeeper produced a comfortable save to preserve their lead.
Energetic Mendy cemented the result for the Stones in the 76th minute of the match. Danny Green whipped in a brilliant freekick from the right wing for Lafayette, but Beasant was equal to his effort. However, Mendy was alert, pouncing in the box to produce a sublime header, which looped over Beasant into the top corner, for his second goal in as many matches.
In the closing stages of the match, Oxborough produced a terrific save, denying Galliford a conciliatory goal for the Tudors.
Overall, it was another confident, brave, and mature demonstration from the Stones; with the defence, brilliantly marshalled by the excellent Jerome Okimo and Connor Stevens, producing a stellar performance, to secure a third clean sheet in three games.
Wealdstone return to league action next Saturday 24th August at 3pm, as they entertain Hungerford Town at The Vale. In the meantime, the Stones welcome Hayes and Yeading United for a friendly on Tuesday 20th August at 7.45pm.
Wealdstone: Oxborough, Arnold, Efete, Clifford (Watt, 76), Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Smith (Mendy, 37), Lafayette, Green, Lewis (Sheppard, 62).
Subs not used: Roberts, North.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee