Wealdstone 1-3 Concord Rangers
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A depleted Wealdstone side were well beaten by Concord Rangers on Saturday, as the Essex side exacted revenge for Stones 6-1 victory earlier in the season. Rangers looked a completely different side from the one which were roundly trounced in late January, as the well organised outfit bullied and battered a young Stones side, getting the 3 points that their overall performance deserved
Manager Gordon Bartlett was forced to make a number of changes for this one, some of them very late, as an accumulation of injuries, suspensions and work commitments meant that there were no fewer than five changes from the starting XI which had gone down 2-0 at Tonbridge the previous week. Most notably there was a first team debut for young defender Bar Hariely, as well as first league starts of the season for James Duncan and Eddie Adjei.
Worryingly the Stones defence had a distinctly makeshift feel to it with midfielder Duncan and promising youth player Hariely filling in as respective full backs and a half-fit Darren Locke coming in at centre half to partner Wes Parker who was still nursing a broken toe.
After a fairly slow start, it was the away side who drew first blood on 10 minutes when a defensive slip down the right hand side allowed Harry Elmes to run clear and square the ball to the unmarked James Elmes who drilled the ball past Jonathan North to give his side an early lead.
Stones then had a shout for a penalty four minutes later when Peter Dean’s powerful free kick struck a Concord player en route to goal, although the referee waved play on much to the annoyance of the home fans behind the goal who thought it had struck an arm.
Wealdstone were struggling to find any real rhythm, and it was the out for revenge Concord who were looking the more likely to score, with Harry Elmes firing just wide from a Gary Ogilvie cross on 25 minutes, and then Tony Stokes firing straight at North from an acute angle five minutes later.
Rangers did double their advantage on 33 minutes when Steve King rose well to head home a left wing cross from Ogilvie, with North caught in no man’s land.
Things then threatened to boil over with 5 minutes left of the half when Danny Spendlove’s heavy touch resulted in him going in hard on a Concord defender. Players from both sides rushed in, and after the players had been pulled apart, Spendlove received a yellow card for the challenge.
Wealdstone began the second half looking more confident, and they managed to reduce the arrears on 58 minutes, when Gavin Massey’s effort from distance was fumbled into the path of Eddie Adjei by Dale Brightly. The young winger kept his composure to turn and square the ball back to Massey who arrowed a strike into the bottom corner with aplomb for his first Stones goal.
Stones were rocked back though as the score stayed at 2-1 for just one minute , when loose defending again allowed Tony Stokes time and space to power a header past North after a cross from Danny Glozier.
Rangers then almost added a fourth a minute later when Ashley Miller hit a powerful volley onto the outside of the post.
Stones tried in vain to close the gap once more, with both Spendlove and Dean having efforts from distance; however they were always struggling to penetrate a physical and well organised Rangers side with Skipper for the day Wes Parker manfully holding things together preventing an even more emphatic defeat.
With time running out, Stones made two changed with Peter Martin and youngster Jordan Lumsden being introduced for the final ten minutes; however it was too little too late, and now they have to pick themselves up for Monday’s home encounter at The Vale with Cray Wanderers, 7.45 kick off.
Monday evening will see the return of regular defenders Alan Massey and Lee Chappell from suspension, although Wes Parker will be unavailable due to work commitments.
Wealdstone: North, Hariely, Duncan, Parker, Locke (P. Martin 83), Dyer, Spendlove, Brooks, G. Massey, Dean, Adjei (Lumsden 86). Subs not used: Thomas, Conteh, Benjamin
By Stuart Warren