Wealdstone 2 – 1 Sutton United
2 - 1
A dramatic and brilliantly crafted injury time strike from Captain Lee Chappell earned Wealdstone a massive three points against league leaders Sutton United on Saturday, as their playoff push gathers increasing momentum.
This result will be particularly sweet for Stones, as they were themselves defeated by a late goal at Sutton earlier in the season under controversial circumstances, and the wild celebrations at the end showed just how much this win meant to the fans and players alike.
Following on from Tuesday’s win over neighbours Harrow Borough, there was just one change to the Stones starting line up, with big Joe Benjamin starting up front in place of Callum Martin who was unavailable.
Benjamin was involved immediately as Stones got off to a perfect start with just 8 minutes played. The former AFC Hornchurch forward picked up the ball on the halfway line before firing an exquisite pass off the outside of his foot down the right flank to Danny Spendlove. Spendlove carried the ball forward and then proceeded to send a great cross to the back post for Peter Dean to head home his 20th goal of the season.
The visitors looked for an immediate response, with former Stones striker Richard Jolly firing straight at North, and then Andy Forbes inexplicably blazing over when unmarked following a Darren Ebsworth corner.
Spendlove had tormented Sutton in the away fixture earlier in the season, and he was again seeing plenty of the ball as they struggled to deal with the winger’s pace and direct running, and it was from one of these runs that Stones nearly doubled their advantage on 20 minutes. The wide man was hauled back on the edge of the box, and Peter Dean stepped up to curl the ball just over the bar from the resultant free kick.
Wealdstone had defended well during the first half, although a lapse in concentration nearly saw Sutton pull the game level on 39 minutes, although thankfully for them Karl Murray could only fire hopelessly over when one on one after an interchange with Craig Dundas had seen the midfielder run clear of the Stones backline.
The second half began at a fast pace, with Kurtney Brooks seeing his effort blocked by a Sutton defender, before Leroy Griffiths saw his powerful effort bravely blocked by Wes Parker.
Joe Benjamin had been enjoying an impressive starting debut for Stones, showing great pace and power, however his afternoon was ended prematurely on 55 minutes when he slipped and caught his studs in the turf whilst chasing the ball, and had to be substituted with what looked like a painful looking quad injury.
The sides were then level on 57 minutes, when the lively Craig Dundas showed great skill to cut inside and fire a low drive from just inside the box past the despairing dive of Jonathan North.
The goal gave the away side a massive lift, and Dundas against went close two minutes after goal, seeing his powerful effort blocked at the near post by the home keeper.
Kenny Adjei was next to go close, shooting just over from 20 yards before Sean Cronin made a great last ditch challenge to deny Dundas.
The game then began to turn with 15 minutes to go, and Wealdstone started to see a lot more of the ball as they pushed the visitors back inside their own half.
Alex Dyer forced Sutton ‘keeper Kevin Scriven into action on 77 minutes, prodding the ball goalwards after Dean had flicked on a long throw from Chappell, before Scriven again had to be alert to save from a great Dean volley.
Wealdstone threw everything at Sutton in the remaining few minutes and got their reward in the first minute of time added on. Substitute Nikki Ahmed fed the ball in to Alex Dyer on the edge of the box who dummied for Dean. Dean then sent a low cross into the box which deceived the Sutton defenders and allowed Lee Chappell to drill home unmarked from the edge of the box. It was just what Wealdstone deserved after a solid display, and they were able to see out the remaining few minutes of injury time with relative ease to seal a massive victory which sees them keep within striking distance of the top five.
Next up for Stones is another massive home clash with 4th placed Tonbridge Angels on Monday night, as they look to close the gap further on the league’s play-off contenders.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Massey, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Spendlove (Ahmed 81), Brooks, Benjamin (Duncan 58), Dean, Chappell (c). Subs not used: Leggett, Conteh.
Man of the Match: Alan Massey
By Stuart Warren