Wealdstone 4 – 3 Croydon Athletic
4 - 3
Wealdstone claimed a narrow victory over Croydon Athletic in a topsy turvy encounter on Tuesday night. With some tough looking away trips ahead over the coming weeks, it was vital that Stones grabbed all three points from this clash with lowly Croydon.
Despite having to rebuild their team from scratch after some much publicised off field problems this season, Croydon put in a hard working performance and Stones will be relieved to have chalked up the victory.
Looking to make amends after Sunday’s disappointing defeat at Cray Wanderers, Wealdstone began the game the brighter of the two sides and took an early lead on 8 minutes. Scott Fitzgerald played a neat ball down the left flank for Lee Chappell, whose driven cross was parried by Croydon ‘keeper Marcus Bettonelli into the path of Alex Dyer, who made no mistake slotting in from 12 yards for his first goal in Wealdstone colours.
Croydon looked to respond, and could have equalised 5 minutes later, when Kevin Seffah found himself through on goal following a good ball by Dan Moody, however Jonathan North was quick off his line to thwart the midfielder.
With a strong wind behind them, Wealdstone were now pushing forward and creating chances, with Chris O’Leary seeing his 25 yard effort strike the top of the crossbar, before Alex Dyer fired straight at Bettonelli after being put through by Fitzgerald.
Despite their bright start some sloppy play allowed Croydon to get a foothold on the game as they went in search of an equaliser. They got the goal they had been seeking for on 38 minutes when the lively Reggie Savage fired over a deep cross which Robert George was able to float over the stranded North.
Stones had a chance to regain the lead on the brink of half time, when Kurtney Brooks surged down the right flank before sending over a cross which just eluded the on rushing Fitzgerald. It was to be the last action of the half as the sides went in one apiece at the break.
Having started the first half brightly, Stones began the second in much the same fashion, and it took them just two minutes to put themselves in front again. Lee Chappell played the ball in to Peter Dean, whose pass found Scott Fitzgerald on the edge of the box. Fitzgerald then rode two challenges before slotting past Bettonelli.
Croydon equalised for the second time of the night ten minutes later. Danny Elgar played a clever one two with Savage, before bursting into the box and slotting past North. It was to be the midfielder’s last action of the night, as he picked up a nasty looking injury scoring the goal.
As the game went on, Stones were becoming increasingly frustrated with the resiliency of Croydon. They were however handed a lifeline when Croydon defender Helgar Orome was adjudged to have tripped Ben Gill in the penalty box. The referee signalled for the penalty, and Scott Fitzgerald stepped up to score his second of the night and Wealdstone’s third.
Peter Dean then gave Wealdstone a two goal lead three minutes later. The hard working front man picked up the ball from Fitzgerald before producing a sublime finish into the far corner from 18 yards.
Croydon Athletic did reduce the deficit on 90 minutes, when North fumbled a free kick and in the scramble that resulted, Savage was able to stab the ball home.
The game then turned ugly in the closing stages. As Croydon tried to take a throw in quickly a scuffle ensued which resulted in Scott Fitzgerald being red carded for apparently raising his arms at Helgar Orome, however Fitzgerald seemed convinced the Croydon defender had made the most of it by collapsing in simulation and clearly made his frustrations known. The Club may be able to use video evidence in Fitzgerald’s defence as he will almost certainly face a 3 match ban.
The final whistle came as a welcome relief to the Wealdstone, who now face a daunting run of five away games, beginning with a trip to high flying Lowestoft Town on Saturday.
Man of the match: Chris O’Leary
Wealdstone: North, Gill, Chappell, Cronin, Massey, Dyer, Dean, O’Leary, Forbes (Long 83), Fitzgerald, Brooks. Subs not used: Lavers, Yorke, Ogbara,