Table toppers Wealdstone entertained sixth position and play-off hopefuls Dorking Wanderers at The Vale on Saturday afternoon; intent on solidifying their position at the summit of the National League South.
A first half goal from Moses Emmanuel, along with a brace from Dennon Lewis, sealed another convincing victory for the high flyers, as Wealdstone continued their phenomenal home form.
Dean Brennan made one change from the side that defeated Billericay Town two weeks ago, midfielder Michael Phillips returned to the line-up for Ashley Charles.
The Stones started the match in imperious fashion, scoring within two minutes of kickoff as Billy Clifford threaded through Emmanuel, who expertly dispatched past Slav Huk; but the linesman flagged for offside.
A few minutes later, the home side were agonisingly close to seizing the initiative, with Danny Green shrugging off Wanderers’ defender Edward Harris in the box, and firing narrowly past the far post.
At the opposite end, Dorking nearly grabbed an early goal themselves, but forward Niall McManus’s effort was brilliantly saved and tipped onto the near post by Norwich City loanee Aston Oxborough.
The home side continued to excel within the early stages of play, galvanising another scoring opportunity in the 9th minute, with the dangerous Emmanuel cleverly turning in the box and firing just past the back post.
In the 30th minute, the Stones nearly profited from a fine counter attack. The energetic Dennon Lewis stole the ball off of Harris on the halfway line and squared to Emmanuel, whose curled effort was parried away by Huk.
Five minutes before the stroke of half-time, the Stones were rewarded for their attacking prowess. Man of the moment Emmanuel latched onto the ball and clinically fired past Huk, sending the front runners into a deserved lead.
Moments later, Wealdstone were reduced to ten men as Connor Smith was sent off, with referee Richie Watkins producing a straight red card for a foul on Sam Beard.
A minute before half-time, undeterred by the sending off, the Stones doubled their lead. Winger Lewis followed up to powerfully convert past Huk and send the Stones into half-time with a two-goal cushion.
Wanderers started the second half in inspired fashion against ten-man Wealdstone, nearly reducing the deficit within three minutes of the restart. Tom Richards found space in the Stones’ box, but was only able to blaze his effort over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the visitors were presented with another opportunity to close the gap, with the ball falling to Matthew Briggs at the far post, but he fired his shot wide of the target.
In the 60th minute, McManus ripped a superb shot from range on the left wing; however, Oxborough was equal to the effort, pulling off an acrobatic save to deny the forward.
In spite of their numerical disadvantage, Wealdstone were close to trebling their lead 20 minutes from time, after a creative passage of play, but Emmanuel’s effort was deflected into the side netting.
Wanderers grinded their way back into the match in the 74th minute, as substitute Guiseppe Sole’s driven free kick eluded the Stones’ defence, and found its way directly into the back of the net.
Further drama was to follow in this feisty encounter. Top goal scorer Ross Lafayette produced excellent holdup play in the box as he swivelled free from Harris, but the Dorking defender brought him down in the process.
Referee Watkins duly awarded the Stones a penalty in the 86th minute, while simultaneously sending off Harris. Lewis, who had been a constant threat for the league leaders, stepped up to confidently convert past Huk from 12 yards.
The Stones were tantalisingly close to scoring another goal moments later, as substitute Jake Sheppard hit a stunning long distance chip over Huk, with only the woodwork preventing the midfielder from scoring a sublime goal.
Despite six minutes of additional time being added, Wealdstone held firm to secure another vital three points in their push for promotion, with defenders Connor Stevens and Jacob Mendy outstanding throughout.
Wealdstone: Oxborough, Efete, Mendy, Clifford (Sheppard 78), Stevens, Okimo, Phillips (Watt 87), Smith, Emmanuel (Lafayette 73), Green, Lewis.
Subs not used: McCoy, Cadogan.
Dorking Wanderers: Huk, Dyett (Richards, 45), Beard, Harris, Ray, Barham (Sole, 63), McShane, Muitt, Moore, Briggs, McManus (Prior, 72).
Subs not used: O’Sullivan, Gallagher.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee
Wealdstone return to action on Tuesday 25thFebruary when they host Chelmsford City in the National League South, kick-off is at 7:45pm.