Bognor Regis Town 2 – 2 Wealdstone
2 - 2
Wealdstone used a bold 3-5-2 formation at Bognor’s Nyewood Lane ground on Saturday but regrettably this was an experiment that failed to capture the imagination or ignite a performance of which Stones are capable against a struggling home side. Stones took an early lead with a goal from Jimmy Gray but went behind to two first half goals but battled back to gain a point and could even have grabbed a late winner with greater composure.
With three centre backs comprising Rob Fitzgerald in a sweeping role and the returned Alan Massey alongside Darren Locke the defence ought to have had a very solid feel about it. Sam Corcoran was moved to the bench with Chris O’Leary restored to his ball winning role in the midfield; James Gray, returning from a long layoff started up front with Callum Martin.
Things started off well enough as Stones pressed forward with Callum Martin’s exciting run forcing a corner with only 2minutes on the clock. The Rocks were using the width of the excellent playing surface and playing some constructive football with Michael Birmingham their effective playmaker in the middle.
But Stones soon prised open a brittle and static Rocks back line. On 12 minutes the ball was gifted to Callum Martin who skilfully rounded the keeper and squared to Jimmy Gray who tapped in the simplest of chances. Amazingly that proved to be the high point of a torrid first period for Wealdstone when little else, inexplicably, went to plan. Stones fell deep and allowed Bognor to come onto them allowing them far too much space to exploit.
Rocks won a free kick out on the right flank on 23 minutes and poor defending exposed Stones ‘keeper Sam Beagle allowing Jason Prior to force the ball home. Beagle then saved well as the away side slipped into a self imposed shell and struggled to break out with any conviction.
Stones did get a strike in from Martin after a good incisive run from Marvin McCoy that reminded the away support that the Rocks defence could be easily breached with sustained pressure.
But as the 45 minute mark came up on the stadium’s impressive electronic score board, disaster struck as Prior grabbed his second goal to send Stones in and facing the hair dryer treatment.
There was little change to Stones fortunes in the early part of the second period as Prior almost snatched a hat-trick with his goal bound strike stopped by a defenders heel.
But Wealdstone’s fortunes finally turned around when Charlie Mpi came on for Jimmy Gray on 54 minutes. Once again Mpi made an immediate impact terrorising the already sluggish Rocks back line with his electrifying pace. It took only 3 minutes for the rocket powered Mpi to break through on goal and force the unfortunate Mickey Demetriou to slice past his own’ keeper to bring Stones back on level terms and earn the unfortunate defender an unlikely man-of-the-match award by the firm of accountants sponsoring the match.
And when the lively Danny Spendlove came on for the injured Darren Locke the shape and formation of the side had to be adjusted and this galvanised the away side transforming the balance of play; Stones suddenly started to play with real urgency.
Billy Gibson added to that impetus when he replaced Martin but despite further sustained pressure they couldn’t find the winner that in truth would have been daylight robbery.
Nevertheless this was a valuable result that keeps Wealdstone right in play off contention, although they have dropped one place into 5th position in the league but still with 7 games in hand over second placed Hastings who visit the St George’s Stadium at The Vale on Tuesday evening (26 January) in a crunch encounter.
Wealdstone: Beagle, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Fitzgerald, O’Leary, Gray, Martin, E’Beyer. Subs used: Spendlove, Mpi, Gibson. N/u: Corcoran, Ngoyi.