League Leaders Wealdstone returned to league action yesterday afternoon, as they entertained thirteenth placed Concord Rangers at The Vale, keen to bounce back to winning ways at the top of the National League South.
Goals from Jacob Mendy, Ross Lafayette, and Michael Phillips sealed a convincing victory for the Stones, after an efficient second half display.
In light of the Stones’ recent poor run of results, Dean Brennan elected to make a number of changes to the starting line-up; including debuts for goalkeeper Harry Isted and defender William Edjenguele, along with a first start for the midfield duo of Jack Jebb and Ashley Charles.
A quick counter attack in the third minute of play resulted Dennon Lewis registering an early effort from inside the box, after a surging run from Mendy on the right wing; but, The Beach Boys’ goalkeeper Chris Haigh pulled off a comfortable save.
The Stones were close to taking the lead in the 15th minute as Captain Jerome Okimo whipped in a fantastic pinpoint cross to Lafayette, with the striker nodding his effort marginally wide of the crossbar.
Five minutes before the stroke of half-time, Wealdstone galvanised their best chance of the half as the ever-dangerous Lewis drilled in an inch-perfect cross from the left wing towards Mendy at the back post, but he was unable to capitalise.
As the half drew to a close, Lewis again worked his magic down the left wing for the Stones, breaking free to square a brilliant ball to Mendy, but the midfielder failed to convert past Haigh.
The deadlock was eventually broken by the Stones in the 50th minute, as Jebb, who was having an influential impact on the match, played a delightful through-ball to Mendy, who raced clear of the Concord defence and coolly slotted past Haigh.
Three minutes later, The Beach Boys nearly instantly drew level, as Kreshnic Krasniqi rose highest at the near post to head towards the top corner, but Isted pulled off a vital save to preserve Wealdstone’s advantage.
In the 69th minute, the Stones doubled their lead in superb fashion through top-scorer Lafayette who latched onto Billy Clifford’s pass and volleyed into the bottom corner.
Concord looked for a quick reply to reduce the deficit, as Captain David Olufemi struck from the edge of the box, but Isted responded with a solid save to palm away the danger.
The Stones nearly extended their lead further in the 84th minute as Connor Stevens’ header looked goal bound, but Olufemi recovered well to clear the ball off of the line for The Beach Boys.
In the 92nd minute, Phillips rounded off the scoring for Wealdstone in superb style, bursting through from the halfway to skip past the Concord defence and clinically fire home.
Stevens received a second yellow card late in stoppage time before an important victory for the Stones was confirmed at full-time.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee
The Stones are next in action on Tuesday 3rd December with the Middlesex Senior Cup opening tie against Hayes & Yeading United, kick-off at The Vale is 7:45pm.
Wealdstone: Isted, Efete, Edjenguele, Charles (Clifford, 63), Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Mendy (Green, 65), Lafayette, Jebb, Lewis (Arnold, 79).