Wealdstone FC 2 – 1 Slough Town, 1st January 2020

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From wealdstone-fc.com

League leaders Wealdstone entertained Slough Town in New Year’s Day’s top of the table clash, keen to avenge their defeat on Boxing Day, and increase their lead at the top of the National League South.

First half goals from Michee Efete and Ross Lafayette led the Stones to a vital victory; with Ryan Bird scoring a consolatory goal for the Rebels.

The Stones made three changes from the side that defeated St Albans City last Saturday, with Captain Jerome Okimo, top scorer Ross Lafayette and midfield talisman Billy Clifford returning to the line-up.

Wealdstone started the match in imperious fashion, taking the lead within two minutes of play, as Michael Phillips switched the ball to Dennon Lewis on the right wing, who controlled with ease and surged to the by-line, setting up Efete, who clinically fired past Jack Turner.

The Rebels had a chance to level the match in the 13th minute, as the ball fell to an unmarked Warren Harris in the box, but his volleyed effort sailed wide.

Two minutes later, Wealdstone were close to doubling their lead, as a cohesive exchange between the excellent Efete and Jack Jebb on the right wing, resulted in the latter forcing a solid save from Turner.

Slough were nearly able to reduce the deficit in the 28th minute, as Lee Togwell struck a powerful, deflected effort from the edge of the box, but Harry Isted reacted with a fine save.

As the Stones began to galvanise more chances through their exciting and incisive play, they doubled their lead in superb style.

Captain Jerome Okimo burst down the left wing and squared the ball brilliantly to top scorer Ross Lafayette, who glided past his defender and coolly fired past Turner at the near post, in the 29th minute.

Wealdstone continued to pose an attacking threat, as they dominated possession and utilised the channels effectively, with the energetic Lewis combining effortlessly with Efete and Okimo on both wings.

In the 35th minute, Okimo advanced down the left wing, finding Lewis, who threaded the ball through to Jacob Mendy in the area, but his effort rose over the crossbar.

The second half commenced in a similar vein for the Stones as they exhibited attacking football, and relentlessly pressed for a third goal to compound their lead.

In the 51st minute, Wealdstone were agonisingly close to increasing their advantage, as Mendy whipped in a teasing cross from the left wing, and Lafayette rose highest to flick the ball goal-bound, but the Rebels were able to deflect his header over.

The Rebels continued to search for a way back into the match, but the Stones were resolute in their quest for a third goal; with Jebb and Lafayette linking-up well, enabling the latter to turn and fire an effort towards goal in the 66th minute, but the ball was always rising.

Isted was called upon in the 72nd minute, as substitute Ben Harris squared to Francis Amartey, but the Stones’ goalkeeper pulled off a solid save to preserve the score line.

Slough were thrown a lifeline in the 81st minute, as Ryan Bird leapt highest in the box to power a bullet header past Isted, and send the match into a tense finale.

Six minutes additional time was added, but the Stones demonstrated outstanding game management to hold out and secure an important win.

Report by Nicole Cho-Yee

The Stones are next in National League South action on Saturday 4th January, as they travel to face Oxford City at Marsh Lane – kick-off is at 3pm.

Wealdstone: Isted, Efete, Edjenguele, Clifford (Green, 74), Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Mendy (Charles, 86), Lafayette, Jebb, Lewis.

Subs not used: Coombes, North, Smith.

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