Wealdstone 3 – 3 Canvey Island
3 - 3
This was a highly entertaining and hard fought affair from all perspectives but, ultimately, the Wealdstone camp will also have been left with a deep sense of frustration and disappointment that they were made to feel hugely grateful for a point when all 3 should have been wrapped up – well before the dramatic 95th minute equaliser from saviour Richard Jolly. Canvey will be equally gutted by being robbed of a great come back victory, having overcome a 0-2 half time deficit.
In truth, a draw for two sides that still harbour play-off hopes on the backs of recent unbeaten runs was perhaps a fair reflection of overall play; but this was a hugely absorbing game of football.
Man of the match Richard Jolly again enhanced his Wealdstone cult status with a further two goals and it is unlikely that a loan player will ever score as many again in a single month. The Sutton man has now bagged a truly remarkable 10 league goals in a mere 5 league matches and will shortly return to his parent club a rejuvenated man.
Prior to the match a minutes silence was impeccably observed by the 444 Vale crowd in memory of Wealdstone coach Ricky Murphy.
Early doors the exchanges were even on the soft pitch with The Gulls knocking the ball around reasonably well and Stones appearing a little over eager. But following a good passing move up the slope a fine Kurtney Brooks shot was equally well saved by Gulls keeper James Russell.
Then a great run through the middle by the lively Danny Spendlove almost brought reward and drew generous applause from the crowd. But Stones were getting boxed in and not releasing their forwards sufficiently, allowing Canvey to boss possession for long periods. Canvey did create a chance from a corner that was eventually cleared and then paid the price for not turning possession into goals.
On 36 minutes Stones got going again and won a corner. Wes Parker turned the ball across the Canvey goal and up popped Richard Jolly at the far post to head in with ease for 1-0. Four minutes later Wealdstone doubled their lead when Alan Massey charged forward from a great 5 man move and when his initial shot at Russell was saved it sprung up nicely for the defender to head home into a gaping net. Stones looked comfortable with a 2-0 half time lead but it was the away side that came out of the traps by far the sharper in the second period.
Only 6 minutes after the interval Canvey pulled a vital goal back when Jason Hallett was brought down in the box by Jonathan North after James Hammond had crucially lost possession. Rob King netted the penalty but there were further problems for Stones as North had sustained concussion and eventually had to leave the pitch and was later taken to hospital. Sean Thomas, now returned from his loan spell at Hemel, replaced North.
Stones were now under the cosh from a Canvey side that sensed an equaliser and the now jittery home side failed to hold any sort of meaningful possession in the midfield. Thomas made a fine finger tip save to preserve Stones now fragile lead with the game now very open. Peter Dean came off the bench to replace a quiet Kieran Knight but he could do nothing to prevent The Gulls equaliser with 15 minutes from the end of normal time when Gulls substitute scored a soft goal when he was allowed the space to roll the ball past Thomas into the far corner.
A neat inside ball from Dean allowed Jolly to send a vicious volley crashing off Russell’s cross bar as Stones hit back down the slope. Alex Dyer to his credit probed all afternoon and tried continually to find openings. More drama was to follow, as with 5 minutes left Jason Hallett rifled a left footed shot into the top corner having thought he should have had a penalty for hand ball moments earlier. Again lost possession in crucial areas was to prove decisive for a sloppy Stones.
It looked game over for the home side but the Referee then announced that a further 7 minutes added time would be played due to North’s injury and this seemed to give Stones some hope and they bucked up. Wealdstone Sub Jerome Federico certainly livened up play with his jinking runs and pace down the right flank. And with one minute left the ball was played to Jolly; in an instant he looked up, made space, and shot exquisitely past Russell for a wonderfully cool finish to get Stones out of jail in the most dramatic of finishes – and fittingly revenge for Canvey’s late, late equaliser at the Brockwell earlier in the season.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Massey, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Spendlove, Brooks, Knight, Jolly, Chappell. Subs used: Dean, Federico, Thomas. N/u: Martin, O’Leary.
MoM: Richard Jolly