Harrow Borough 2- 2 Wealdstone
2 - 2
This rather subdued Halloween FA Trophy derby clash turned into a ghoulish nightmare of a result for Wealdstone and never has a drawn match been greeted with such derision and controversy. Stones looked to be heading for another win over their bitter rivals after 5 minutes of announced time was receding into the distance but former Wealdstone striker Rocky Baptiste came back to haunt his old club with a well taken 98th minute equaliser.
Replacement referee Mr Ian Kitchen was questioned at the final whistle by Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett as to his time keeping , but the dye was cast for an unwanted replay.
With the massive FA Cup 1st round proper match with Rotherham looming large next Sunday, the last thing Stones wanted was a midweek replay against an awkward Boro’ side intent on spoiling the party and disrupting the prepared script. But Wealdstone can really only have themselves to blame and cannot paper over the conceding of three unnecessary free kicks in dangerous areas in the final 3 minutes of an extraordinarily generous period of added time.
Stones were without Chris O’Leary (suspended) and brought in Danny Spendlove. James Gray partnered Greg Ngoyi up front, with Charlie Mpi on the bench.
Wealdstone ripped into their hosts from the first whistle and looked intent on doing some early damage. A corner after only two minutes was spilled by home keeper Andre Baptiste and was just about scrambled away.
Lee Chappell then tore down the left flank and Ryan Ashe blazed wildly over, but after more pressure and with only 6 minutes on the clock Stones deservedly took the lead. Alan Massey headed powerfully into the box and Rob Fitzgerald was on hand to send the ball back into the net via a flapping Baptiste.
Stones looked like a side in a hurry and continued to pile forward at each and every opportunity. Massey shot just over and then Mark E’Beyer had a deflected strike sent out for a corner. Baptiste’s handling had by now looked far more assured and he held several decent strikes following his messy opening period.
But the hosts gradually began to claw their way back into the match and found space on the flanks with Rocky Baptiste and Dewayne Clarke combining well and putting in some decent touches around Stones area.
Stones continued to break out with pace and energy with Kieron Forbes looking particularly threatening on his raking runs. On the half hour mark Sean Thomas had to be alert to parry a strong Clarke strike and then Rocky Baptiste headed over when well placed.
The restart was delayed as a replacement assistant referee was found for Mr Mackay who had popped a hamstring and was unable to continue.
Greg Ngoyi headed over after another corner for Stones but Harrow started to take up the initiative as Stones seemed to ease off the gas and began to back pedal somewhat.
The home side did what they had been threatening when Rocky Baptiste found space to shoot passed an exposed Sean Thomas on 52 minutes to bring them back on level terms.
Stones soon burst back into life as Danny Spendlove raced forward with some excellent play to make space but his shot bobbled just wide of Baptiste’s post. Forbes then took off on a mazy run and was brought down with the away support screaming for a red card.
Once again Stones appeared to be at their best when needing to bounce back and they did it again with a piece of pure magic from Lee Chappell. From the free kick that Forbes had won, Baptiste prepared for the ball to be sent up and over the wall to his near post. Instead Chappell curled the ball around the wall low down to the keeper’s right and found the net to cue huge celebrations as Stones were quickly back on track.
Play then went from one end to the other as Stones tried to finish the game off and eliminate the possibility of a replay, whilst Boro fought to equalise and with Baptiste and Clarke they had the means, in this derby, to do so.
Marvin McCoy went on a great run from the back after a superb flick from his telepathic partner Forbes. But a determined Boro kept plugging away and forced several corners that were cleared reasonably comfortably
Charlie Mpi came on for Ngoyi with 10 minutes to go and then Spendlove was replaced by Ken During.
Clarke headed over for the hosts with the goal at his mercy and when a free kick was blasted over by the Reds with 5 minutes of injury on the clock it all seemed all over.
But with the 400 away fans expecting the final whistle to be blown the referee seemingly refused to end proceedings until further significance. Rocky Baptiste duly obliged for the home side with an excellent free kick that gave Thomas no chance to set up a hugely unwanted replay on Tuesday evening from the Stones perspective that will risk injury and fatigue.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Fitzgerald, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, Spendlove, Gray, Ngoyi, E’Beyer. Subs used: During, Mpi. N/u: Ellerbeck, Lafayette, Beagle (GK)