Sutton United 3- 2 Wealdstone
3 - 2
Sutton United gained ample revenge for their shock 0-4 drubbing by the Stones at The Vale in September and this victory with a highly dubious 86th minute penalty also preserved the home side’s unbeaten record at Gander Green Lane.
Stones will be very disappointed to have ultimately lost this exciting game against a strong U’s side, having played well throughout and taken a very early lead to shake Sutton; but in a see-saw scoring match the home side came back from behind twice, grabbing two late goals including a late hotly disputed penalty to steal all three points.
Wealdstone withstood some very early Sutton pressure and then promptly took the lead after 6 minutes. From a corner on the right the ball seemed to be evading the danger area but was headed back across the box by a defender and centre half Darren Locke seized the chance to volley into the net from close range for his first goal for the Stones.
But The U’s soon restored parity as their assistant player manager Steve West found himself left unmarked in the area and shot past Sean Thomas with some ease just minutes later.
In a very open and lively first half both sides had chances to find the net following the early scoring. Carl Martin was very alert to clear off the line and then Alan Massey thought he had give the lead back to Stones when he volleyed in but the referee called play back for an infringement on the United keeper.
Chris O’Leary was involved in a midfield battle with United’s David Hughes and both players were booked following robust challenges. Stones continued to battle away and won several corners in a solid first half performance.
For The U’s big Steve West was a constant threat with his battering ram approach up front keeping the pressure on Stones rearguard. Stones front pairing of Davis Haule and Greg Ngoyi worked extremely hard but struggled to make inroads into an experienced home defensive for long periods.
Half time: 1-1
The early part second half did not quite match up to the first in its intensity and play became more of a midfield battle for a period but with Stones definitely having the better of the exchanges. The tempo of the game changed again with 19 minutes to go with a wonderfully crafted goal from Wealdstone. A superb run down the left flank by Lee Chappell ended with an equally outstanding cross into the box where Danny Spendlove swept the ball into the net in conjoined motion for 2-1.
Sadly for the Stones the lead was again cancelled out. Dean Palmer, who had not made many friends at the corresponding match in September at The Vale, netted for a grateful home side on 76 minutes.
Stones still looked good value for the draw but disaster struck with a few minutes remaining. A Stones defender missed the ball under pressure in the penalty area and a Sutton forward appeared to propel himself to the ground. The assistant referee seemed to be disinterested but the Referee had other ideas and awarded the spot kick. The protests were in vain and Sutton substitute Adam Wilde converted the spot kick for a very relieved and grateful home side.
Wealdstone can certainly take heart from a very solid and hard working performance against a proficient and highly fancied Sutton side that clearly see themselves playing at a higher level following an unhappy relegation last season.
Stones drop two places in the table to 12th as a result of the reverse.
Next Saturday (27th December) Stones take on their neighbours Harrow Borough in the eagerly awaited ‘big one’ – the derby clash at The Vale. Their defence will literally need to be on red alert.
Wealdstone : Thomas, Martin, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Hicks, Forbes, O’Leary, Haule, Ngoyi, Spendlove. Subs: Gray for Locke (45) Ashe for Ngoyi (65)