Wingate & Finchley 0 – 5 Wealdstone
0 - 5
Wealdstone got 2012 off to the perfect start with a crushing win over Wingate & Finchley. On an excellent playing surface at The Harry Abrahams Stadium, Stones dominated proceedings from start to finish and in truth never really looked like conceding against a poor Wingate side, as Gordon Bartlett’s men close in on the top five.
With influential midfielder Alex Dyer just failing a late fitness test, there was a return to the side for David Hicks who partnered
Connor Smith in the middle of the park. Sean Cronin also came straight back into the starting XI after being unavailable for Saturday’s draw against Carshalton.
The opening quarter of an hour was a pretty turgid affair with neither side really threatening. Wingate’s Mark Henry was the first player to register an effort on goal, shooting well over from 20 yards with eight minutes on the clock.
If Wealdstone were going to open the scoring then it looked like their best chance would be from Lee Chappell’s trademark long throws which the Wingate backline were consistently struggling to clear. Britt Assombalonga was unlucky to see his glancing header fly just wide from one of those torpedo-like deliveries.
And it was Lee Chappell who created the opener on 22 minutes, although not from a throw but from a delightful left wing cross. Having decided against launching the ball into the box from a throw, Chappell opted for the short option with David Hicks
returning the ball to the midfielder, who took a touch before delivering the ball into the six yard box where Scott Fitzgerald was on hand to glance a header past the stranded Bobby Smith.
As the half wore on Stones pressed to increase their lead further, with Wingate ‘keeper Smith doing well to palm away a powerful effort from Wes Parker, before Assombalonga showed great skill to bring the ball down and turn inside the box before firing just over.
Having set up the opening goal Chappell came close to scoring himself on 38 minutes, when after Connor Smith had gone on a surging run from his own half, the Watford loanee was able to cut back and deliver an inch perfect ball from the right hand side to the onrushing Chappell who met the ball with a diving header. It looked like it was going in but ‘keeper Smith showed great reflexes to turn the ball away with an outstretched foot.
Connor Smith was in the thick of the action again two minutes later when he earned his side a clear penalty. The midfielder darted into the box and when it looked like he was about to pull the trigger, The Blues’ Bobby Aisien clumsily bundled him over giving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Having scored from a penalty kick on Saturday, Fitzgerald stepped up to take the kick but his powerful strike cannoned back off the crossbar and away to safety.
Despite the missed penalty Stones were able to take a two goal lead into the break thanks to a touch of pure class from Assombalonga. The winger showed great skill to waltz past three players before unleashing a left footed effort from just inside the box which flew in off the post giving the ‘keeper no chance.
If there was any doubt about the result as the sides kicked off the second half, then these doubts were quashed in the 52nd
minute when Assombalonga added his second of the game. Hicks played a great ball forward to Richard Jolly who lofted over the stranded Smith; as the ball bounced goalwards Assombalonga finished from three yards out, despite the close attention of the covering Aisien.
The Watford youngster was now on a hatrick and he had two half chances to seal it, first firing wide following up Jolly’s shot that had been palmed out by Smith, and then aiming straight at the Wingate ‘keeper having cut inside from the right.
It was then top scorer Richard Jolly’s turn to get in on the act. On 72 minutes Stones inflicted further punishment on the hapless home side. A succession of passes resulted in Hicks crossing to the far post where Jolly was able to head the ball back
across goal and into the far corner giving the overworked stopper no chance.
Stones ace striker was then able to double his tally six minutes later. Assombalonga threaded the ball through to James Hammond who swung over another inch perfect cross for Jolly to head home emphatically.
It was now a case of damage limitation for Wingate, although Wealdstone ‘keeper Jonathan North had to be alert to tip over Matthew Mitchell’s long range effort as he looked to gain some consolation for his side.
The final ten minutes saw Wealdstone comfortably knocking the ball around as they saw the game out and Scott Fitzgerald should have even added a sixth late on; the former Watford striker could only head over from close range following another accurate delivery from Hammond.
A great all round performance ensured a rewarding afternoon for Stones, who will no doubt face a sterner test on Saturday as they welcome highfliers Lewes to The Vale, 3pm kick off.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Massey, Parker (c), Cronin, Smith (Brooks 77), Assombalonga, Hicks, Fitzgerald, Jolly (Dean 77), Chappell (Ahamed 62). Subs not used: O’Leary, McCubbin.
By Stuart Warren