Table topping Wealdstone entertained Hungerford Town on Saturday afternoon at The Vale, as they looked to continue their excellent start to the season.
A first half goal from Jacob Mendy, along with second half goals from Dennon Lewis and Ross Lafayette, secured a fourth consecutive win for the Stones; with Josh Martin scoring for the Crusaders.
The Stones started the match in a purposeful fashion; pressurising Hungerford from the outset, as they adopted an attacking formation; alongside a high press, initiated by tireless forward, Ross Lafayette.
Wealdstone demonstrated their offensive intent from as early as the second minute of the match. Lafayette rose highest to powerfully head Green’s corner on target, with only a fine save from Hungerford’s goalkeeper Adam Siviter, preventing the home side from taking the lead.
A minute later, Captain Jerome Okimo was close to sending the Stones in front; rising to head another of Green’s corners marginally wide of the far post.
As the first half progressed, Wealdstone continued in the same vein, galvanising a number of goal scoring opportunities, as they illustrated cohesive play, and dominated possession.
In the 37th minute, the Stones were rewarded for their persistence, assuming the lead in emphatic style. Green assisted Mendy, with the latter advancing into the box to clinically despatch low into the bottom corner past Crusaders’ goalkeeper Siviter, and register his third goal in successive matches.
Hungerford forward Kofi Halliday proved to be a frequent threat, instigating several of their attacking moves. However, Wealdstone’s central defensive pairing of Okimo and Connor Stevens were in impervious form, effortlessly thwarting any of the Crusaders’ attacks, while excellently marshalling the backline.
In the second half, the Crusaders fought their way back into the match, profiting from a freekick to draw level in the 57th minute. Joe Tomlinson’s delivery found Martin, who rose highest to header home past Aston Oxborough, and draw Hungerford level.
The Stones responded instantly, retaking the lead in the 59th minute. Fantastic play from Lafayette on the right wing enabled him to square the ball across the box to the impressive Lewis, who stole a yard, and rifled a shot past Siviter into the top corner.
As Wealdstone continued to press for another goal, Dean Brennan’s side sealed their victory in the 75th minute, with talisman Lafayette, who had been outstanding throughout, converting Phil Roberts’ cross from close range, after a pinpoint through ball from Michael Phillips.
Hungerford rallied to reduce the deficit in the closing stages of the match, but the Stones held firm, managing the game in a mature and composed fashion, to ensure they maintained this season’s unbeaten home record.
It was another comprehensive team performance from Wealdstone, as they demonstrated character and resilience to regain the lead after the Crusaders had drawn level; securing another three points.
The Stones will conclude their Bank Holiday double-header with a trip to the Bob Lucas Stadium to face Weymouth on Monday 26th August, kick-off is at 3pm.
Wealdstone: Oxborough, Arnold, Efete, Clifford (Sheppard, 75), Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Mendy (Watt, 68), Lafayette, Green, Lewis (Roberts, 73).
Subs not used: North, Beckles-Richards.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee