Dover Athletic 3-1 Wealdstone
3 - 1
This match played at the Ryman Premier Champion’s well appointed Crabble ground on Saturday was always going to require a performance of herculean magnitude from a battle weary Wealdstone side also needing other results to go their way to maintain their long shot hopes of a play off place.
As it turned out this was simply a bridge too far for the Stones playing a ‘make or break’ match against a very confident, free flowing Whites team in celebratory mood looking to top the 100 point mark. And with AFC Hornchurch and Carshalton both also winning a play off place this season will not now happen this season for Wealdstone.
Stones can instead reflect on a hugely progressive and proud season for their young and talented squad that will surely challenge again very strongly next season if they can remain together – something that off field activities and the much publicised 100:400 schemes’ success or failure will largely determine. There is still a job to do and a win next Saturday (25 April) at The Vale against Hastings United, Stones final match of the 2008/9 season, will cap a fine campaign where interest and excitement for a growing local audience has been maintained throughout.
As for the match itself, Stones were dealt a major blow as early as the fourth minute when Whites right back Matt Fish burst into the Stones area and struck a powerful shot past keeper Sean Thomas and into the back of the net. This was certainly not the start Wealdstone needed but the away side had a clear cut chance to equalise on 16 minutes. But wing back Lee Chappell blazed over an open goal after Dover’s Preston Edward’s only parried a good strike from Greg Ngoyi.
A fast raiding and fluent Dover had other opportunities to add to their score – James Rogers going close on several occasions – but Stones would have been relieved and heartened to go in at half time only one goal down.
But a further goal ten minutes after the restart left a veritable mountain to climb for Wealdstone. Dover swung in a deep cross beyond the far post and their left back Sam Gore headed home past Thomas for 0-2.
To Stones credit heads didn’t drop and their spirit shone through again as they fought hard to claw something back out of the match. But this encounter was all about finishing and dealing with chances when presented. Unfortunately skipper James Gray shot wide when a clinical finish was called for.
Dover rubbed the salt in following Gray’s miss with an outstanding goal that even had Stones manager Gordon Bartlett applauding. Frannie Collin dragged back and smashed the ball past Sean Thomas, who had absolutely no chance, for a superb finish.
Stones work ethic and resistance finally paid off when Greg Ngoyi slipped the ball past the advancing Edwards for 1-3, whilst adding to his recent impressive strike rate.
Dover where then happy to close the game out and end Stones play -off adventure for this season.
Speaking after the match on the Wealdstone FC Information Line, Gordon Bartlett was clearly a disappointed man. ‘I am feeling very flat at the moment and a total contrast to last week. We had enough chances to get a result but our poor finishing today was the difference’ He also sounded a grave warning about keeping the current squad together: ‘ We are stuck at two thirds take up on the 100:400 scheme and we have one week to turn this around or we risk breaking up the side. After all the hard work put in this season it would be a disaster – and I’m not doing it all again’.
12 Spendlove for O’Leary
15 Haule for Gray