Brackley Town 0-1 Wealdstone
0 - 1
Wealdstone’s Sean Cronin was centre stage on Saturday, as the big defender produced a heroically brave performance in goal following the late withdrawal of Jonathan North. Regular ‘keeper North was forced to pull out of the squad for this tough FA Trophy tie due to illness on Saturday morning, and centre back Cronin, with no goalkeeping experience, stepped forward to keep a clean sheet in a memorable 1-0 victory, which sees Wealdstone through to the First Round Proper of this seasons tournament.
Despite defending resolutely at one end, Stones had to wait until the last minute of normal time to break the deadlock in this enthralling encounter with big spending Zamaretto Premier League side Brackley Town. With the game tied at 0-0 and a replay looming, Peter Dean fired in a superbly struck shot to ensure Stones place in Monday’s draw at Wembley Stadium.
With Cronin taking his place in goal, it meant there was a place in central defence for Wes Parker who returns to the side following injury. There was also a welcome return to the starting XI for top scorer Greg Ngoyi, after the striker was forced to miss the last few games due to work commitments.
Once again backed by a tremendously vocal away following, it was Wealdstone who had the first chance to open the scoring on five minutes, when Greg Ngoyi latched onto a clever ball from Alex Dyer, however his shot was well saved by the feet of Brackley’s vastly experience goalkeeper Billy Turley.
The home side began to get a foothold on proceedings though, as they pushed forward looking to test Sean Cronin. They were consistently firing high balls in and around the six yard box looking to catch the 23 year old out, however he stood firm and anything he failed to deal with the central defensive pairing of Parker and Massey mopped up admirably.
Cronin twice had to be alert midway through the first half as Brackley centre forward Anthony Thomas twice tried his luck from distance, with both shots being straight at the emergency goalkeeper who was able to get his body behind them.
Chris O’Leary perhaps should have given Stones the lead on 38 minutes, as he found himself in space following a Danny Spendlove corner; however he headed wide of the post when unmarked.
Greg Ngoyi then had his second chance of the half three minutes later, but he was again thwarted by Turley after finding himself one on one after a surging run and through ball from Kieron Forbes.
After a fairly even first half, Stones began the second half brightly, with Danny Spendlove seeing his well struck volley from 25 yards expertly palmed away by Turley, before Kieron Forbes jinked his way into the box and fired just wide.
Brackley had their first chance of the half a few minutes later, with Francis Green hitting a powerful volley from the edge of the box, but his effort was met with a fine reflex save from Cronin as he tipped the ball over for a corner.
From the resultant corner Brackley again came close, with Anthony Thomas seeing his acrobatic effort rebound off the underside of the crossbar and away to safety.
The home side thought they had taken the lead on 58 minutes, when the lively Winters played a clever cross to the far post which was headed into the net by Jason Bradley; however his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
With the game now becoming far more open both sides had chances, with Green heading over from a good position for the home side, before Danny Spendlove’s driven cross was nearly put into his own net by Chris Willmot.
With the game coming to a conclusion and a replay looming, there was one more pivotal moment to come in the last minute. Substitute Louis Lavers sent over a cross which was only half cleared to Peter Dean on the edge of the box, who chested the ball down before driving it powerfully goalwards. Although Turley got a hand to the ball, he was unable to keep it out and it squirmed over the line, cue wild scenes behind the goal as the players, including the jubilant Cronin, went to celebrate the late winner with the Stones faithful.
It was to be the last action of note in what had been a hugely exciting cup tie, and Stones will now wait until Monday lunchtime when they find out there next opponents in what has been an action packed cup run.
Wealdstone: Cronin, Gill, Chappell, Parker, Massey, Dyer, Dean, O’Leary, Ngoyi (Fitzgerald 66), Forbes, Spendlove (Lavers 79)
|Shots on target||6||7|
|Shots off target||11||4|
By Stuart Warren