Wealdstone 2 – 2 Kingstonian
2 - 2
Both sides in this fascinating encounter should be congratulated for serving up a great advertisement for non-league football. In an incredible opening six minutes the 552 crowd saw three well taken goals and several near misses and saves; indeed the score line could easily have read 6-4 at half time as both defences looked as porous as in their first encounter and had both teams taken all of their chances.
Inevitably matters clamed down as the match wore as both sets of players tired but although Stones felt aggrieved at conceding a gutting equaliser right at the death, when it appeared that a clear hand ball by a Kingstonian defender went unpunished by the officials, a draw against second in the table opposition was nonetheless welcome in maintaining their play-off hopes.
Danny Spendlove and Chris O’Leary were the early doors scoring heroes for Wealdstone followed by a rapid-fire response from K’s lethal but pop-star sounding Denis Wilson-Denis.
Wealdstone introduced another new starter for this crucial match – Northern Ireland U19 International and Wycombe Wanderers striker, Matt McClure, replaced the injured Jamie Osborne. It was a baptism of fire for the youngster but he adapted well and will rarely have to contend with such a physically powerful and experienced back line.
Moreover, Stones management and supporters were buoyed by the long awaited return of Kieron Forbes after being sidelined for 4 months following a serious knee injury sustained at Farnborough. Forbes started the match in at an unaccustomed right back slot but came through very well in such a hard and physical clash.
After K’s had won a corner in the first minute, all hell broke loose and it literally rained goals. After good work from Mark E’Beyer and Matt McClure a clinical pass left the static K’s defence fully exposed allowing Danny Spendlove a straight run at goal. At first it appeared the winger had over hit the ball but he managed to squeeze his accurate strike past the despairing dive of Rob Tolfoy with barely 3 minutes on the clock.
Two minutes later Stones attacked down the slope – having lost the toss – and won a corner. From Ryan Ashe’s excellently flighted kick, Chris O’Leary was left unmarked in the box to power a great header past Tolfoy.
But with Stones seemingly in dreamland the K’s immediately hit back. One minute after the re-start the away side rapidly moved up the slope and when the referee commendably allowed play to continue after a Stones defender had fouled a K’s forward, the ball was played into the path of Carl Wilson -Denis who shot past Sean Thomas for 2-1.
The excitement was far from over however as Tolfoy somehow managed to push away what would have been a spectacular own goal as K’s defence looked all over the place and there for the taking, despite their collective gigantean stature.
Then Marvin McCoy, revelling in his new centre-half role almost lashed in a great strike but was thwarted by a brilliant Tolfoy save. Ryan Ashe then got in on the act but smashed the ball over the bar from Lee Chappell’s torpedo like throw in.
Matters then inevitably calmed down as play settled in a midfield battle with the away side beginning to win most of the second ball and with Matt Gray sending over some dangerous crosses with either foot.
Stones hit back on the half hour mark when a fantastic, sweeping, down field move almost allowed Spendlove the chance to double his tally. McClure then showed what he can do and volleyed just over with Tolfoy mightily relieved.
K’s main marksman, Bobby Traynor had been quiet but suddenly showed why he is the League’s top scorer with a terrific effort that whistled past Thomas’s far post, as K’s largely dominated possession. The half ended with a great teasing cross from McClure being ballooned over by an on rushing Callum Martin.
Stones turned the tables after the turnaround and dominated proceeding immediately. The ‘float like a butterfly sting like a bee’ Danny Spendlove should have done better after being put through on goal by Martin after the towering Francis Doku misplaced a back pass.
Concern for Stones when Ashe went down injured and was unable to continue and was replaced by Darren Locke who went to right back and Forbes was pushed back into his more familiar mid field berth.
Callum Martin was desperately unlucky to see his firm strike saved by the in form Tolfoy after McClure’s through ball had put him in on goal.
Although play became a little more stretched with Kingstonian winning far too many free kicks, Stones defence coped well enough with McCoy and Jimmy Gray relishing the aerial battle.
But Wealdstone began to tire as the recent game count and the strength sapping physical battle at hand took its toll. Jimmy Gray prevented an equaliser with a super block but with the clock ticking down the opportunities began to present for an away side that kept plugging away.
With 90 minutes almost on the clock the Kings broke when Stones substitute Loius Lavers thought he had won a free kick due to a handball. The ball fell to Wilson-Dennis and he smashed the ball past Thomas for a late, late equaliser.
Although Stones had cause for complaint, the ball should have been cleared or run out and these are harsh lessons to be learnt by the inexperience of youth.
This was further progress for a Stones side that would have not been at the races a couple of weeks ago and they must now summon up more reserves of energy and spirit as the games continue to come ridiculously thick and fast – starting with an improving Billericay side at The Vale on Tuesday evening (16 March) and a League Cup Semi Final on Thursday (18 March) v Croydon Athletic also at home.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Gray, Forbes, Ashe, E’Beyer, O’Leary, McClure, Martin, Spendlove. Subs used: Locke, Lavers, Ngoyi. N/u: Fitzgerald, Beagle (GK)
MoM: James Gray