Wealdstone 2- 1 Horsham
2 - 1
Wealdstone recovered magnificently from a disastrous start against an impressive looking Horsham outfit on Tuesday evening at a freezing Vale with a brace of goals from the imperious Ryan Ashe. This win moves Stones up to a healthy 5th position, only 4 points away from 2nd placed Hastings United, in the Ryman Premier table.
All eyes focussed on Watford loan player Billy Gibson, signed the day before, who started the match playing wide right and early on he looked very impressive using his height and skill to good effect. As the match wore on Gibson began to discover the physicality of football at Ryman level and that defending and tracking back is also a requirement of an attacking player but the Hornet’s youngster is equipped to learn and will undoubtedly be exciting to watch.
Big pluses also were the performances of Callum Martin who had a fine game in attack and Darren Locke who looked very solid all night and made a memorable goal saving tackle in a crucial period of the contest.
Stones were rocked after only 30 seconds play when, straight from the kick off, Horsham flew down the slope and from a cross into box that had left defender Lee Protheroe floundering, the ball found Pat Harding who knocked the ball past an exposed Luke Woods.
Certainly not the start Stones wanted but they soon dragged themselves back into the match and began some decent attacking moves with Billy Gibson playing a starring role. Only a few minutes after the restart Gibson received the ball out wide and then cut in beating a couple of defenders and unleashed a great strike that smashed against the upright. Then Ryan Ashe produced an equally good shot that pinged off an upright and out to safety to the Hornet’s relief.
Stones continued to find opportunities in and around the box; Greg Ngoyi missed a couple of sitters from a few yards out, losing his footing and then Callum Martin was unlucky with another good effort.
But the Hornets looked a very useful, assured, and well drilled outfit and in Lee Carney they have an influential player that pulls all the strings. On the counter the away side always looked dangerous and more than capable of grabbing a second goal that would have made Stones task very difficult indeed, if not irrecoverable.
Stones pressed on and displayed high energy levels but at times overplayed the ball and as the half wore on it looked as though they would remain goal less. More worryingly they were leaving big holes at the back that fortunately Horsham were unable to exploit by a combination of wayward strikes and last ditch defending.
But on 42 minutes Stones finally made the all important breakthrough and a dealt the Hornets a psychological blow just before the break. Greg Ngoyi’s rebounded effort found Ryan Ashe in space and he reliably screwed a shot in off the post that squeezed past Craig Bradshaw.
Stones tightened up considerably at the back in the second period and took the game to the away side far more consistently.
Ryan Ashe was again unlucky with a strike early on and then Ngoyi’s header was well saved by Bradshaw as Stones searched for a winner. But Horsham’s play remained economical and their ball retention was still causing problems for a chasing home side now playing down the slope.
Darren Locke then made a fantastic tackle in the box to deny the Hornets a certain goal and that was perhaps the key turning point in the contest.
On 65 minutes following a period of dominance Stones finally took the lead with a superbly worked goal. Ryan Ashe started the move and finished it. In between Callum Martin showed the home crowd what they have been missing for such a long period when in a flowing and majestic interchange that Wenger would be crowing about Ashe slid the ball past Bradshaw.
Ngoyi who is a little out of sorts at present was replaced by Danny Spendlove who made the most of his time on the pitch with some skillful breaks on goal.
Sam Corcoran then came on for Gibson and Charlie Mpi for Martin as Stones saw out the remainder of the match in a tense final few minutes as they again allowed Horsham to come on to them far too much. An Alan Massey foul near the end looked worrying but the central free kick was defended well enough.
Stones have another home game on Saturday at The Vale (19 December) and will be hoping that the wintry weather doesn’t prevent the opportunity for further progress.
Wealdstone: Woods, Protheroe, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Gibson, O’Leary. Martin, Ngoyi, E’Beyer. Subs used: Spendlove, Corcoran, Mpi: N/u: McCoy, During.
MoM: Ryan Ashe