Aveley 0 – 1 Wealdstone
0 - 1
Sometimes in football, you have to ‘win ugly,’ and that was certainly the case for Wealdstone on Saturday in an encounter played out in the nether regions of the Essex estuary that did little to enhance the notion of the beautiful game. In front of a sparse crowd at Aveley’s Mill Field ground on an awful undulating pitch, neither side was able to create any real chances, and it was perhaps fitting that this dire encounter was settled by a strike from Stones very own Dyer – midfielder Alex, whose finely executed first half effort keeps Stones hot on the heels of the division’s top five. Despite the lack of entertainment on display, the result is yet another big three points for Wealdstone in what is turning out to be a very close run battle for the playoff spots with just nine points between 3rd place and Stones in 12th.
There was some bad news before kick-off, in that on loan Watford striker Gavin Massey had picked up a hamstring injury in training and was to sit this one out. What it is not yet known is the full severity of the injury but Stones fans will be hoping the highly rated forward will be ready to play some part in the run in, especially with fellow striker Joe Benjamin also on the treatment table at present. With Massey out there was another chance for Callum Martin to come in from the start as he continues his rehabilitation following a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
The game started as a scrappy affair, and this seemed to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon with the first action of note taking place on 12 minutes, when it appeared that Danny Spendlove’s cross hit the hand of Aveley defender Sean Francis, however the away side’s protests were in vein.
It seemed like Stones had an even clearer shout for a penalty ten minutes later, when Spendlove again fired over a cross which was seemingly controlled by the arm of former Stone Kenny Beaney, however once again the referee waved play on.
A very wide pitch at Field Mill meant that Lee Chappell was struggling to cause as many problems from his trademark long throws as usual, however on 25 minutes Alan Massey rose highest to flick one on into the path of Callum Martin, whose acrobatic effort dipped just over the bar.
The best move of the match, some may say the only move, struck on 28 minutes and resulted in a goal for Stones. The hard working Dyer played a great through ball to Martin who held the ball up before laying in into the path of the onrushing Dyer who capped the fine move he had started by finishing smartly to put his side in front.
After a non eventful last 15 minutes of the first half, the second half did at least begin somewhat brighter with Spendlove teeing up Martin who miss-kicked when well positioned, before the two combined again, this time with Spendlove unable to get a shot away when in a good position.
The game then soon slipped back into the nonchalant fashion of the first, with both sides being restricted to few efforts from distance and neither ‘keeper being troubled. Nevertheless Stones continued to defend stoutly, cancelling out the home side’s greater possession.
The Millers had to wait until 71 minutes for their first chance of note when full back Spencer Harrison burst into the box and fired just across the face of goal.
The remaining ten minutes at least saw the relegation threatened hosts make a bit more of a go of it, with substitute Sherwin Stanley forcing Jonathan North into his only save of the match, firing straight at the Wealdstone ‘stopper from an acute angle.
With a very generous four minutes of time being added on, it was Wealdstone who came closest of the sides to scoring, when Kurtney Brooks’ well struck effort from the edge of the box flew just wide.
Next up, is a home game at The Vale against Folkestone Invicta on Saturday 19th March as Stones look to extend their remarkable unbeaten run in the league to 12.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Massey, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Spendlove (Duncan 83), Brooks, Martin (Ahamed 76), Chappell (c). Subs not used: Thomas (GK), Conteh
Star Man: Alex Dyer
By Stuart Warren