Horsham 2-1 Wealdstone
2 - 1
A late goal from top scorer Peter Dean proved to be little more than consolation for Wealdstone as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat away at Horsham.
The big team news before kickoff was that striker Gavin Massey was recalled by his parent club Watford, so he was replaced up front by youngster Eddie Adjei. There was also a welcome return to the side for Danny Spendlove, who returned to the side after missing the previous three games due to bereavement.
In baking hot conditions at Goring’s Mead, it was the home side who had the first chance of the afternoon, with Jamie Cade seeing his acrobatic effort fly just over, before Sean Cronin came close for Stones, seeing his superb 25 yard volley expertly clawed away by Mark Zawadski in the Horsham goal.
Wealdstone captain Lee Chappell then had to be alert to make a goal line block to deny Jamie Brotherton on 16 minutes as he looked to side foot into an empty net after Billy Dunn’s low cross had left Jonathan North stranded.
Cronin, who was again playing in the centre of midfield in the absence of the injured Alex Dyer, tried his luck from distance for the second time on 28 minutes, hitting a shot from 20 yards which went just wide of the near post.
Only some superb defending from Darren Locke then denied Horsham from taking the lead. Billy Dunn headed the ball past North and when it looked like the striker was about to bundle the loose ball home, Locke came across to deny him on the line
It was only a temporary reprieve for Stones though as Horsham took the lead 30 seconds later. Dunn swung over a cross from the right, which was met by a great leap from Jamie Cade who headed home past North.
Wealdstone were then forced to make a change on 35 minutes, with Danny Spendlove being replaced by Peter Martin due to an injury earlier in the half which he had failed to run off.
The goal seemed to spark Stones into life somewhat, and Wes Parker came close to scoring his second goal in three games, heading onto the bar from Lee Chappell’s cross.
They were however unable to grab and equaliser before half time and went into the break one goal down.
Stones began the second half on the front foot, and Kurtney Brooks nearly gave his side the lead on 51 minutes, hitting a powerful free kick from the edge of the box which Zawadski did well to palm away.
Horsham midfielder Hassan Nyang then had two decent chances for Horsham, first of all arriving unmarked from a corner and firing well over when perhaps he should have hit the target, and then again a few minutes later heading straight at North from another corner.
Horsham did double their advantage on 69 minutes, when after Alan Massey had clumsily hauled down Jamie Brotherton in the box, the midfielder dusted himself down to fire the spot kick straight down the middle and past North.
From this point on it looked like the heat had taken its toll on the Wealdstone players, as they lacked sufficient energy going forward, despite the introduction of Callum Martin to the forward line with 20 minutes left to play.
Horsham then had two more penalty shouts turned down as they looked to close the game out, with Brotherton again going down under a challenge from Parker, and then soon after it looked like Peter Martin had pulled back Dunn, however luckily for Stones the referee waved play on both times.
Wealdstone did eventually manage to pull a goal back with just a minute to play. Lee Chappell’s long throw into the box was missed by Zawadski, presenting Peter Dean with the chance to slot the ball home.
It was however too little too late for Stones as despite a couple of late corners, they were unable to find a way past the Horsham backline.
Stones can now look forward to a local derby with Harrow Borough on Easter Monday (KO 3pm) at The Vale as they look to dent their rival’s promotion hopes in the tightest of finishes at the top end of the table.
Wealdstone: North, Parker, Chappell (c), Locke (C. Martin 70), Massey, Cronin, Ahamed, Brooks, Adjei (Conteh 78), Dean, Spendlove (P. Martin 35). Subs not used: Dyer, Benjamin.
By Stuart Warren