Canvey Island 3 – 1 Wealdstone
3 - 1
This match was totally overshadowed by a very serious leg injury to Stones keeper Jonathan North who sustained a double fracture to his right leg early in the first half.
Wealdstone started much the brighter of the two sides, and hit the post on 8 minutes through Tom Pett with James Russell diving desperately to his left.
Canvey’s first real chance came soon after however from a corner on 12 minutes. Jason Hallett steered the ball goal wards with his head, but his effort was kept out of the net by a defender on the line. Steve Sheehan followed up but North saved.
A minute later and disaster struck for Jonathan North. A short back pass saw Jason Hallett race forward to steal possession, with North rushing from his goal to attempt to clear the danger. Both players reached the ball at the same time, but unfortunately for North he came out worse in the collision. His instant reaction was one of obvious distress, and the game was quickly brought to a halt so that he could receive urgent attention.
During the lengthy delay, a mixture of home stewards and medical staff, Wealdstone coaches and medical staff and paramedics worked together to ensure North’s safe exit from the pitch by stretcher and into a waiting ambulance.
Wealdstone replaced North with Scott McCubbin, with defender Sean Cronin taking the gloves as no substitute goalkeeper was named on the bench.
Once again the visitors started to create chances following the restart, with Peter Dean seeing his shot well saved by the in-form Russell.
Against the run of play Canvey took the lead in the 1st of the 19 additional minutes. A swift counter attack saw Jason Hallett slot the ball through to Curran, who skipped the ball past the Stones defence before drilling a low shot across Cronin and into the bottom corner of the net.
Stones players were very understandably stunned by North’s predicament and Canvey started to take control of proceedings following the goal, and a minute later John Easterford was unfortunate to see his header fly narrowly over the cross bar after connecting with Matt Game’s corner.
In the 5th minute of stoppage time the lead was doubled from the penalty spot. This time Hallett whipped the ball through to Curran, who drove into the area turning Alan Massey in the process. With Massey struggling to recover his position he brought down the Gulls’ striker, with the referee pointing to the spot immediately. Rob King slotted the ball past Cronin.
Wealdstone didn’t let the two goal deficit stop them from playing their flowing attacking game, and only some very composed defending prevented them from pulling a goal back before half time. The highly impressive Pett flashed a low cross across the face of goal, with Richard Jolly lurking in anticipation at the back post but just out of reach.
There were final chances in dying moments of the first half, with Hallett heading over from Leon Gordon’s cross and Russell saving Lee Chappell’s shot with his legs.
To their huge credit,Stones came out for the second half determined to get themselves back into the game, and were totally on top with possession and chances. Tom Pett was causing constant problems, but unfortunately for him Russell was in outstanding form in the Canvey goal, saving Pett’s shot from the angle before Michael Alaile stopped substitute Alex Dyer’s follow up attempt on 51 minutes.
Pett did manage to beat Russell 3 minutes later with an effort from the edge of the area, but this time centre back Steve Sheehan was on hand to slide in and block the shot on the line.
The Wealdstone attacks were relentless, and after Russell had saved once again, this time from Lee Chappell, Richard Jolly missed a chance which in any other game would have buried. A corner from the left found the head of Jolly, a couple of yards from goal at the back post but the 40 goal striker somehow managed to steer the ball wide of the mark. Wealdstone made their final change on 58 minutes when Connor Smith entered the fray in place of Peter Dean.
The next goal in this match was always going to be crucial, but it was the home side who grabbed it. Curran picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed a wicked swerving shot which flew into the bottom corner of the net with Cronin helpless. But Stones carried on regardless and continued to attack.
Russell made three excellent saves in quick succession with 15 minutes to go, and it looked as though that despite Wealdstone’s numerous chances, Russell was going to prove himself unbeatable. However, with 6 minutes remaining the visitors did get the goal their attacking persistence deserved, with substitute Connor Smith scoring from close range.
Smith had another effort shortly afterwards, but Russell dived well to his left to round off an excellent performance . Wealdstone played well enough to have won any match, but on the night they were met with a tremendous display of shot stopping at one end and a very cruel blow to the best goalkeeper in the league at the other.
Wealdstone :Jonathan North, James Hammond, Alan Massey, Tommie Hoban, Sean Cronin, David Hicks, Kurtney Brooks, Tom Pett, Peter Dean, Richard Jolly, Lee Chappell
Subs: Scott Fitzgerald, Scott McCubbin (used), Connor Smith (used), Alex Dyer (used), Nickki Ahamed