Wealdstone 1- 2 Billericay Town
1 - 2
Wealdstone slipped to defeat in appalling playing conditions at The Vale on Tuesday evening as torrential rain and driving winds turned the match into the proverbial lottery and no one would have been surprised if referee Nigel Field had taken a decision the abandon proceedings in an increasingly farcical second period.
Some will applaud the decision to see the match out, not least the travelling Town faithful, although even they were heard to have a different opinion of matters at half time when they were a goal down and Wealdstone were very much in the ascendancy and playing some decent football despite the aquaplaning conditions.
Ryan Ashe was restored to the midfield following illness; Chris O’Leary was serving a suspension and Callum Martin was declared not fit prior to the game.
It was Billericay that made the livelier of starts playing down the slope as the rain bucketed down but Stones soon started to get some decent attacking moves together. Ben Alexander went close and then Davis Haule was unlucky with a flicked effort from a long free kick.
Both sides battled well and to their credit made light of the conditions in the first half when there was far less surface water to contend with. Gradually Stones movement started to seriously worry the Ricay defence and the lively Ashe put a good shot just wide.
After 28 minutes, Wealdstone deservedly took the lead when Keiron Forbes who been making some penetrating runs smashed in a loose ball from close range past Tony Tucker.
But the away side continued to look dangerous in breakaways and Carl Martin headed brilliantly off the line as the ball spun away from Sean Thomas’s grasp only two minutes later. A feature of the first half was Stones excellent defensive cover with skipper James Gray making some timely interceptions and he and Alan Massey seemed to be almost revelling in the difficult conditions – this sadly was to change as the water levels increased in the second period.
Danny Spendlove who was profligate with chances all evening , shot just wide when well placed, but Stones had worked hard to earn their narrow lead which ought to have been greater.
Billericay appeared more determined in the second period and used their possession to seemingly greater effect as the rain tore down and the wind direction was now in their favour, making Thomas’s kicks far more difficult. But Ashe again shot wide after a great run from Keiron Forbes. These misses were to prove all too costly for Stones – Thomas had to bring off a great save after 56 minutes and matters were now definitely turning to the away sides favour.
Two minutes later Ricay had equalised. From a throw in on the right Stones failed to clear their lines effectively and Jamie Dormer stole in to put in a firm low shot past Thomas who had no chance to save.
Wealdstone were now struggling to get attacks moving at all and rarely seemed to be able get in the opposition half as conditions continued to deteriorate. The only way to play in these conditions was to get the ball airborne and into the danger areas – and Billericay did just that to gain their winner. A lofted free kick into the Stones area created the chance for Dave Wareham to smash the ball past Thomas. But the goal was hotly disputed by the Stones Players who were convinced it was offside – James Gray was booked for his protestations to the assistant referee.
Stones brought on all of their available substitutes in an effort to pull a goal back but it was to no avail – despite a final excellent chance for Ben Alexander 3 minutes from time – and a hard working performance from the home side that looked very promising before the conditions took over sunk literally into defeat and surely with it all pretensions to a play off position.
Wealdstone travel to Canvey Island on Saturday (March 7).
Wealdstone: Thomas, Martin, Chappell, Gray, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, Hicks, Haule, Alexander, Spendlove. Subs used: Clarke, McCoy, Nygoyi. N/u: Hilaire, Jones.