Table toppers Wealdstone returned to league action on Saturday afternoon, as they travelled to Meadowbank to face sixth place Dorking Wanderers, keen to maintain pole position in the National League South.
A first half brace from in-form Dejon Noel-Williams sent Wealdstone into half-time with a two-goal cushion, but second half goals from Jack Barham and James McShane sealed the comeback for Dorking, as the spoils were shared at Meadowbank.
The Stones started the match brightly, generating their first goal scoring opportunity within the first five minutes of play. Dennon Lewis and Sanchez Watt combined effortlessly on the right wing, with the former surging to the byline and driving in a dangerous cross, which was well-intercepted by Wanderers’ keeper Slavomir Huk.
The visitors continued to press for an opener, and were deservedly rewarded in the ninth minute; set-piece specialist Danny Green whipped in a sumptuous free kick, which striker Noel-Williams duly converted past Huk.
Four minutes later, the Stones were tantalising close to doubling their lead, as the energetic Watt played through Lewis, but his effort was thwarted by Huk. Moments later, Green curled in another excellent free kick, again finding Noel-Williams, but he was denied at the near post by another smart save from Huk.
As both teams settled into the match, Dorking began to create more attacking opportunities. Jake Gallagher came close to equalising for the home side in the 18th minute, as he unleashed a vicious half-volley from the edge of the box, which was deflected narrowly wide.
In the 29th minute, Wealdstone were close to increasing their lead. Industrious play from Watt, high in the Dorking half, prompted a fantastic attacking passage of play, which resulted in Nick Arnold’s firing just wide of the target.
As the first half progressed, the match became cagier, with both sides vying for ascendancy. Wanderers came close again to leveling in the 42nd minute, as Niall McManus stole a yard and curled an effort towards the bottom corner, but Connor Stevens was brilliantly positioned to clear McManus’ effort.
On the stroke of half-time, Dean Brennan’s side doubled their lead in emphatic fashion, as the ever-dangerous Lewis blitzed past his marker on the right wing, before firing in a lethal low cross, which was clinically slotted home by hotshot Noel-Williams, for his brace.
The Stones started the second half in a positive manner, with Noel-Williams close to claiming his first hat-trick for the club, after a fantastic surging run from Green, but the striker dragged his effort marginally wide of the post.
In the 53rd minute, Dorking edged their way back into the game, as Barham profited from a swift counter attack, to coolly chip the ball over Aston Oxborough from just inside the area, and reduce the deficit.
Spurred on by the goal, Wanderers began to gain confidence and galvanise more goal scoring chances. In the 58th minute, Barham proved to be a threat again, shooting goal bound from inside the Wealdstone box, with only a superb block from Okimo preserving the visitor’s lead.
Dorking continued to gain momentum, and Jimmy Muitt was agonisingly close to equalising, rifling and fierce strike towards goal in the 72nd minute, but Oxborough produced a sublime save to maintain Wealdstone’s advantage.
A minute later, Wanderers McShane sealed the home side’s comeback, latching onto a rebound to curl a splendid effort into the top corner past Oxborough.
The Stones pressed further for a winner in the 79th minute, as Reece Beckles-Richards stormed down the right wing and whipped in a delightful cross, which Lewis struck first-time, but his effort rose over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Stevens produced a purposeful run from defence and threaded though Noel-Williams, but Dorking recovered with a vital tackle.
The closing stages of the match ended tensely, as both sides searched for a further goal, but neither side could snatch a last-minute winner.
The Stones will open their Middlesex Senior Cup campaign on Tuesday when Hayes & Yeading United visit The Vale, kick-off is at 7:45pm.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee
Wealdstone: Oxborough, Arnold, Efete, Sheppard (Beckles-Richards, 75), Stevens, Okimo, Watt (Charles, 68), Smith, Noel-Williams (Coker, 86), Green, Lewis.
Subs not used: Saunders, Everett.