Billericay Town 0 – 0 Wealdstone
0 - 0
Wealdstone negotiated a tricky encounter at a sunny New Lodge on Saturday and claimed a hard won point – something they were unable to achieve home or away last campaign against a competent Essex side.
With the highly unusual luxury of starting this match with virtually the same side that finished the previous season, continuity bore fruit and Stones were able to snuff out most of what Billericay had to offer in attack through out . But it took some exceptional goal keeping from Sean Thomas at the very end of this match to ensure Stones came away with a deserved point to get their season off to a good start.
Wealdstone did had enough chances to collect all 3 points; Alan Massey, Greg Ngoyi and Danny Spendlove were all desperately unlucky with chances that hit the wood work or were cleared by good defending.
Stones were quickest out of the traps and immediately put Town under pressure with Greg Ngoyi causing their back line a few problems. But the much changed home side started to play out of defence with more fluidity and finally tested Sean Thomas on 13 minutes when a decent shot that could only be parried by the former QPR keeper but the ball was cleared to safety.
Moments later Town’s leading goal scorer Billy Bricknell fired wide when very well placed to the away side’s relief.
Stones withstood pressure from the home side as Ryan Ashe and Keiron Forbes in the midfield found it hard to get moves going. But central defenders Alan Massey and Skipper James Gray provided a brick wall and continually frustrated the home attack.
Following a flat period of play from both sides with too much lost possession, Stones perked up when Forbes went on a raking trade mark run and was unlucky that it came to nought. But Wealdstone’s first corner of the half almost created the break through.
Ashe took the kick and Massey met the ball with a clean header that was destined for the back of the net with Andy Walker nowhere, but a defender did his job on the line and headed away to safety.
Town’s Joe Flack shot over and then Ben Alexander wildly miscued a great chance as the half ended.
Stones emerged from the break with an unchanged side and were again under some pressure and were finding it difficult to break out and create penetrating forward play.
But on 56 minutes, a corner was cleared to Spendlove who crossed well to a leaping Ngoyi but he was agonisingly off target. The diminutive striker’s luck was out again a minute later as he struck an upright.
The hard working Chris O’Leary went down following a challenge in the midfield and was replaced by Rob Fitzgerald and then Alexander was subbed by another new boy, Charlie Mpi.
Ngoyi was rightly irritated by an uncompromising series of challenges from Town’s Russell Pond who appeared at one point to poke the Wealdstone forward in the eye area. Pond was eventually booked for his troubles.
But the story now was the effect on the game created by Charlie Mpi. It was immediate and dramatic – the rangy striker carved out a corner almost from his first touch.
Mpi then roasted Town’s left back for pace and created a chance for Spendlove to curl a lovely shot that crashed off the crossbar. And Mpi’s enthusiasm and pace found him in space to volley a shot in front of goal but he rushed his strike and blazed over.
Thomas then came to the rescue with a series of great stops but substitute Jamie Osborne had a super chance to grab victory when put clear but his shot was just to close to Walker who stretched expertly to push the effort away.
Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett was happy with the point ‘I’m happy with that and we could have won it. We said at half time that we wanted to keep a clean sheet and we have achieved that – Sean pulled off some excellent saves at the end but overall we did well against what is a bogey side for us’ he said.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Gray, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Alexander, Ngoyi, Spendlove. Subs used: Fitzgerald, Mpi, Osborne, N/u: Beagle (GK), During.