Waltham Abbey 1 – 2 Wealdstone
1 - 2
Goals from Mpi an Ngoyi give Stones the edge at Waltham Abbey and move them up to 3rd in the table. Wealdstone progressed to third place in the Ryman Premier table after successfully negotiating a hard, bruising encounter at the Capershotts stadium on Tuesday evening.
Some of the tackling by the home side was not for the feint hearted but although Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett will know his side can still perform much better, he will also know that, on the evidence of this match, many sides will receive a rude awakening from Waltham Abbey this season. This was a hard worked victory if there ever was one played at a break neck speed for the most part.
In an absorbing match that sometimes threatened to boil over, Stones moved into the comfort zone for periods of the second half having taken a two goal lead but conceded and then looked vulnerable until Abbots’ Dave Ayers was sent off late on. But this was after inspirational skipper Jimmy Gray hobbled off with an ankle injury that hardly looked accidental and he may miss Saturday’s crucial FA Cup encounter at Borehamwood.
Stones looked lively from the start and took the game to Waltham with some piercing runs from Kieron Forbes and Charlie Mpi, restored to the front line with Greg Ngoyi. Lee Chappell then struck the cross bar and the rebound fell invitingly but the chance was lost.
There was a sign of things to come on 10 minutes as Marvin McCoy was scythed down whilst in mid run by an agricultural challenge from Dave Ayers. But the Abbots stood up to the pressure with some no nonsense and resolute defending and tactics, which, although basic, were effective in clearing their lines and setting up attacks. The bounce of the ball on a bone hard pitch made control difficult for both sides.
Stones were gaining corners with some frequency and one or two caused havoc in the Abbots goal mouth – Greg Ngoyi was unlucky with a well directed header that was cleared off the line. To their credit the home defended strongly throughout with former Stone Andy Keepence doing consistently well in the air all night.
Following a scrappy period of play the first of several scuffles broke out as the tackles went flying in. Kieron Forbes was adjudged to have fouled in a strange decision, one of many on the night by the officials. After a Ryan Ashe shot was saved, Stones finally made the break through with a beautifully executed goal on 43 minutes.
Mark E’Beyer and Kieron Forbes combined skilfully to set a sprinting Charlie Mpi free through the middle and he shot past Taylor with great aplomb.
The uncompromising nature of play continued in the second period and following another heavy challenge Jimmy Gray went down and after carrying on for a few minutes had to limp off. Ken During replaced him with McCoy moving to central defence.
Stones doubled their lead on 59 minutes and looked to make the game safe. Ryan Ashe was the creator with a strong burst through the middle and earned a slice of luck as the ball rebounded kindly for him to square to Greg Ngoyi who clinically finished off the move.
But Stones appeared to relax and lose concentration and only 5 minutes had passed before the Abbots had grabbed a goal back from Billy Holland who was completely unmarked.
Chris Ellerback came on for Charle Mpi who begins a 3 match suspension from Saturday.
In a swift counter attack somewhat against the run of play Wealdstone were awarded a penalty kick for hand ball but Ryan Ashe appeared to top the ball and blasted the spot kick wide of the upright. This gave the home side more hope and they pushed three strikers into attack as play became increasingly frantic.
But Waltham shot themselves in the foot when Ayres transgressed for the final time following a running battle with Chris O’Leary who gave no quarter in this contest. Stones hung on and a hard earned three points were added to their tally.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Gray, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Mpi, Ngoyi, Ebeyer. Subs used: Ellerbeck, During. N/u: Locke, Woods (GK)