Wealdstone 0 – 3 Tooting and Mitchum
0 - 3
A competitive, fast and furious start to this match, coming on the back of Wealdstone’s emphatic win at Hendon on Saturday, did not indicate the collapse of confidence and any form of constructive forward play that was to come in the second half, and, with it, a hugely disappointing defeat.
Growing concerns with the forward line situation were there for all to see on Tuesday night. Time and again the ball could not be held up long enough to bring the Stones midfield into play and despite Stephen Hughes and young Ben Clarke working their socks off all evening, against a canny defence and a lack of understanding in their brief partnership, they toiled largely in vain and lacked a cutting edge.
That said an unchanged Wealdstone side started brightly enough and looked up for the battle against a Tooting side with a reputation for direct and physical play – we were not disappointed. It was end to end stuff early doors with both sides achieving and conceding corners alternately. Carl Martin headed wide with a smart effort from a free kick and then a good piercing run from Mark Boyce put the way side under pressure down the slope in the surprisingly breezy conditions. Luke Woods was soon brought into action with an excellent diving save with the Terrors making swift and dangerous looking raids up field.
A pattern of play started to form with Stones wanting to play football more patiently but being put under constant pressure by the away side who would not allow Stones midfield to settle on the ball. Stones defence again looked solid enough and until the midfield and forward line dropped their intensity of play later in the game were able to hold off most of what Tooting threatened. In fact Stones ended the first period looking better and finding more space with Clarke making some decent runs but it was all too isolated. And when Tooting missed a glorious opportunity 4 minutes from the break it looked as though Stones might go on to claim a hard earned result.
But Stones second half performance almost from the first whistle was woefully sluggish, lacking in creativity and disjointed. The good news initially for Stones was that Tooting looked equally inept when it came to putting the ball in the net but that all changed on 65 minutes, seconds after Ryan Ashe had a very good shout for a penalty. The Terrors raced down the slope and Paul Vines finally netted at the far post despite Woods best efforts to scoop the ball out.
Stones never recovered from this breakthrough and they seemed to lose their defensive composure and discipline all over the park as the ball constantly pinged back down the park. The main threat to the away side coming only from occasional runs through the middle from the stylish Carl Martin – an island of composure on the night. The midfield was almost completely nullified and finding any kind of positive forward moves was increasingly difficult to achieve.
Gordon Bartlett rang the changes with Marvin McCoy coming on for Mark Boyce and Nick Salapatas on for Stephen Hughes. Sadly Stones were soon 0-2 down as former loanee centre half Aaron Goode went on an unchecked run that resulted in Vines grabbing his second goal and it was virtually game over. A late third goal from Michael Antonio rubbed salt into Stones open wounds to end a thoroughly miserable evening at the Vale.
With no home game on Saturday, Stones management team have much to contemplate before the next league encounter on October 4 away to mid-table Harlow Town.
Wealdstone: Woods, Boyce, Massey, Gray, Martin, Ashe, Forbes, Hicks, Clarke, Hughes, Chappell. Subs used: McCoy, Salapatas, O’Leary. N/u: Burrell, Quaye.