Hendon 2 – 3 Wealdstone
2 - 3
Calls for the real Wealdstone to turn up were answered emphatically at a freezing cold Vale Farm on Saturday with a gutsy and resilient performance in which wide man Danny Spendlove was pivotal to a much needed victory over a capable and improving Hendon outfit. The blond bombshell had an outstanding game and was influential throughout gliding with apparent ease over the rutted and bobbly playing surface.
Stones showed great character by shrugging off an early set back and then blitzed the Greens with three well taken first-half goals, including a double from the majestic football brain that is Callum Martin. If Martin can stay fit he will undoubtedly begin raising a few eyebrows on the scouting circuit and is already posing a real threat to Ryman Premier defences.
But this was a good all round team performance from Wealdstone that was long overdue and will help to erase the memory of some recent worrying, lackadaisical performances. Stones were tested in a frantic final ten minutes but held out and the relief in the team was palpable.
Although Stones looked up for the battle from the off they were rocked back on their heels after only 5 minutes when Hendon’s newly signed loan player from mega bucks side Farnborough, Anthony Thomas, lashed the ball past a stranded Sean Thomas after the ball had rebounded off his cross bar flat footing the Stones defence.
Somehow we knew this was going to be Stones day as the lively Thomas did the hard work to get clear of his marker but screwed the ball wide of the goal, and his namesake, only a few minutes later
But Stones roared back and Danny Spendlove made space for himself but his firm strike was saved at the expense of a corner by an alert James Reading. And it wasn’t long before the away side made their possession and new found aggression in the midfield count – sparked by new signing Adam Logie – when a ball across the area found the energetic Darren Locke who stretched to poke the ball beyond Reading for the centre-half’s second successive goal showing the way for his fellow forwards .
The goal further galvanised Stones who attacked immediately. Within a minute of the restart Spendlove took off on a great run down the left flank and crossed for the on rushing Callum Martin who swept the ball past Reading to take the game by the scruff of the neck for 2-1.
Hendon continued to knock the ball around well enough but were lacking penetration and looked ponderous at the back under some sustained pressure from Martin and the fit again Charlie Mpi who ran his legs off for his team but sometimes lacked control at the vital moments.
On 27 minutes Wealdstone did what they had been threatening to do and increased their lead again. Callum Martin was the man on the spot again as he lashed a powerful strike into the top right corner of the net to signal more joy for the Stones fans who outnumbered the home support. Martin’s run then almost created a fourth goal but reciever Mpi became entangled and couldn’t release his strike
The first booking of the match occurred for the home side just prior to the break – the first of what turned out to be yellow card confetti in a much feistier and petulant second period as the going got decidedly tougher.
The home side came out looking far more determined no doubt instigated by a tongue lashing from their manager Gary McCann during the interval.
The bookings soon began to come thick and fast as Hendon put the foot in and attempted to rough up the Stones and in the process break up their forward momentum. To a degree this worked as the home side now enjoyed more possession but the Stones defence held firm with Marvin McCoy and lee Chappell staunching attacks down the flanks and Alan Massey and Darren Locke looking safe in the centre of defence repelling the occasional aerial ball effectively.
Charlie Mpi and Martin appeared to be the main targets of some cynical challenges – Chris O’Leary also ending up in Mr Breakspear’s note book when he retaliated. Matters were threatening to boil over as Jamie Busby and James Bent were yellow carded – although a horrible off the ball challenge by Lee O’Leary on Martin went unpunished in a difficult passage of play for the officials.
In between, both sides continued to have chances, McCoy struck well from 20 yards but Reading tipped over for a corner.
On 76 minutes the Greens pulled a goal back just when Stones appeared to have regained the ascendancy. A miskick from Sean Thomas from a short back pass almost screwed the ball back into his own net a la Rotherham but it span out for a corner. From the kick a good flick-on allowed Casey Maclaren to smash the ball past Thomas to reduce the deficit.
Suddenly Stones nerves resurfaced as the home side sensed the opportunity to snatch an unlikely point from the game. And a vicious strike on the away side’s goal that was deflected out brilliantly by Locke for another corner only served to heighten the tension.
David King replaced a tiring Adam Logie and Jamie Osborne came on for Martin as Stones consolidated and attempted to calm play down.
Hendon upped the anti with further physicality in the final few minutes but paid the price as James Bent was shown a second yellow and was duly despatched to the dressing room. But the lessons hadn’t been learnt as there was still time for the 11th and final booking, this time for Hendon’s Jamie Parker. King was brutally felled just outside the box but Mark E’Beyer put the free kick well over with a few minutes to go.
Wealdstone held out, kept their shape and showed commendable restraint and resilience in a tough second period; and in the process they gained their first three points of 2010, moving them back up to 8th in the table.
Long term table toppers Dartford beckon on Tuesday evening (16 February) at the St Georges Stadium at The Vale and it promises to be a cracker.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Logie, E’Beyer, O’Leary, Mpi, Martin, Spendlove. Subs used: King, Osborne. N/u: Gray, Fitzgerald, Beagle (GK)