Maidenhead United 1 – 1 Wealdstone FC, Saturday 19th October 2019

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Wealdstone will entertain a Fourth Qualifying Round replay with Maidenhead United after a 1-1 draw at York Road on Saturday afternoon.

An early second half strike from Ross Lafayette looked like the Stones winner until Ryan Upward found a late equaliser for the home side.

The Stones began the brighter of the two sides and set a quick tempo early on, Billy Clifford’s curling effort and Lafayette’s first-time volley from the edge of the box were the highlights of the early pressure.

National League Maidenhead United held firm in the opening ten minutes until they could look for their opener, Jake Cassidy was the first to curl a strike wide.

The game became as tight as many predicted as the game settled down, no shots were registered until Magpies forward Josh Kelly’s counter-attacking drive down the right was comfortably saved by Aston Oxborough.

The Stones reacted with the biggest chance of the half after 24 minutes, an in-swinging corner from Danny Green found Jerome Okimo and was unfortunate to see his header bounce off the far-post.

A lead for the away side would have been deserved and Maidenhead needed to respond, Oxborough denied Joe Ellul of the opener at the half-hour mark when the Norwich City loanee got low to parry away the back-post header.

The tie became more even again as the Magpies looked to create through Ryheem Sheckleford on the right, as he fired the ball across the face of goal and wide of a target.

Wealdstone got back on the front-foot and finished the half the stronger side, Dennon Lewis and Sanchez Watt both were unfortunate to not convert before the break.

An audacious curler from Magpies speedster Josh Smile at the edge of the box flew over before the whistle was blown for half-time.

With the game on a knife-edge at the interval, whichever team came out the stronger in the second half would need to take advantage and convert.

That’s exactly what happened for Wealdstone within six minutes of the second period. Lafayette brought the ball down beautifully with the top of his boot from Clifford’s lofted pass and fired low across goal into the bottom corner.

If the Stones were to beat their National League opponents, they would need to double their advantage, similarly to previous away wins at Welling United and St. Albans this season.

Connor Stevens almost extended Wealdstone’s lead on the hour-mark when he was unlucky to head Clifford’s cross from the left over the bar.

The Stones kept the pressure on and Watt was the next to create an opportunity after an intelligent turn on the edge of the box ended in the former Arsenal winger’s strike being saved by Chris Dunn.

Wealdstone kept pushing on looking to put the tie to bed, Michee Efete struck after a mazy run from right-back located him on the edge of the box.

The home side then regained momentum and were floated direct, deep passes into the area in the final 15 minutes to find an equaliser.

A fantastic tackle from Efete on the edge of the Wealdstone box lead to a counter-attack with Clifford and Lewis abruptly breaking down near the half-way line.

Maidenhead kept pushing and eventually found their goal four minutes from full-time, Upward latched onto a parry from Oxborough and bounced the ball into the bottom corner with his right foot.

Wealdstone performance warranted huge appreciation from the travelling Stones fans in the corner of the Bell Street stand at full-time and a replay at The Vale will settle this tie.

The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round replay will be played this Tuesday at The Vale against Maidenhead United, kick-off is at 7:45pm.

Report by Dec O’Reilly

Wealdstone: Oxborough, Mendy, Efete, Clifford, Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Watt (Smith, 67), Lafayette, Green, Lewis.

Subs not used: Ringer, Saunders, Charles, Coker, Sheppard, Arnold.

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