Wealdstone 1 – 0 Leatherhead
1 - 0
Wealdstone made it three wins on the bounce on Monday night; however they were made to work hard for their three points against a spirited and physical Leatherhead side.
Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, Stones found themselves hanging on for the final 15 minutes as Leatherhead pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Despite the drop off in performance in the second half, the result saw Stones climb up to eighth in the table.
It was Stones who had the best of the early exchanges, with Kieran Knight producing some of the great hold up play he has shown in recent weeks, before releasing Kurtney Brooks who fizzed an effort just wide of the post on five minutes.
They came even closer to opening the scoring three minutes later when a surging diagonal run from marauding centre back Alan Massey saw him play a teasing ball across the face of goal which Richard Jolly uncharacteristically poked wide from close range.
Stones will feel they should have had a penalty on 11 minutes, when from a David Hicks free kick into the box, Massey went down under a heavy challenge from Leatherhead’s giant centre half Danny Gainsford. The referee waved play on, leaving Massey with nothing but a bloody nose for his trouble; Massey and Gainsford were to tussle in a bruising side contest for the entire match.
Leatherhead then had their first chance in what had been a lively opening 15 minutes when a cross from Jack Macleod found its way to the back post where Gary Drewett could only skew his shot wide when well placed.
The lighting pace of the opening 20 was slowed somewhat when Leatherhead’s Tommy Hutchings needed extensive treatment after going down with an ankle injury, although remarkably the Leatherhead number 10 was able to continue.
After the lengthy stoppage it took Stones time to find their rhythm again, although they had a great chance on the half our mark when a great threaded pass from Kurtney Brooks saw Richard Jolly run clear, however he could only pull his shot wide when under pressure from the covering menace of the towering Gainsford.
They did take the lead two minutes later though. A trademark long throw into the box from Lee Chappell caused havoc in the Leatherhead goalmouth, and when they could only clear it to the edge of the box, Alan Massey was on hand to slam the ball home through the crowd of players.
The goal seemed to dent the confidence of the visitors somewhat, and Massey could have doubled his tally soon after, meeting a Hicks corner with a thumping header which unfortunately lacked the direction to beat Chico Ramos in the Leatherhead goal.
Alex Dyer was next to go close on the stroke of half time, however his left footed effort from outside the box was easily collected by Ramos after a good run from Scott McCubbin.
The second half begun with Wealdstone goal getter Richard Jolly going down under a hefty challenge from Chris Boulter, and from the resultant free kick, another decent delivery from Hicks saw Brooks fire a powerful effort over the bar.
Having scored on Saturday against Kingstonian, captain Wes Parker almost made it two in two when his glancing header from a Chappell long throw had Ramos routed to the spot, however the ball rebounded off the post and away to safety.
An uncharacteristic error from Massey then almost saw Leatherhead pull level just after the hour mark when the centre back’s attempted header back was intercepted by Kev Terry who flicked the ball agonisingly wide of the far post, distracted by the presence of covering defender James Hammond.
The visitors then came close again a minute later when Drewett’s clever header found Vernon Francis on the edge of the box who lashed the ball just wide. Massey then atoned for his earlier error by clearing the ball off the line with ten minutes left on the clock, when lax defending allowed Terry to prod the ball past North, fortunately the big defender was in the right place at the right time to put the ball out for a corner.
Stones then had a stone wall penalty incredibly waved away when Jolly found himself one on one following a clever flick from Peter Dean, the striker was just about to pull the trigger when he was clumsily brought down by the aggressive Gainsford , however the referee signalled for a corner much to the amazement of the Stones faithful behind the goal.
The remaining few minutes were a nervy affair as Leatherhead peppered the Wealdstone box with a number of high balls however Stones were able to hold on for a welcome third win on the bounce.
Wealdstone now take a break from the league when they begin their FA Cup campaign next Saturday at home at The Vale to Beaconsfield SYCOB.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Chappell, Parker (c), Massey, Dyer, McCubbin (Parsons 85), Brooks, Knight (Dean 67), Jolly, Hicks (Spendlove 79). Subs not used: Cronin, O’Leary
Man of the Match: Alex Dyer
By Stuart Warren