Match Report – Gosport Boro1- 3 Wealdstone
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Wealdstone returned from the South Coast with a much needed victory and three valuable points on Saturday but with something of a ‘Curate’s Egg’ performance. Certainly very good in parts with a double strike in the second half from top marksman Elliot Benyon and a goal from Matt Whichelow early in the first period.
Stones had to dig deep in a frenetic last 30 minutes after midfielder Sam Cox was shown a second yellow and Gosport threw cross after cross into their box. But Stones defended stoically, aided very competently by loan debutant Keeper Andrew Thomas from Premiership side Watford. The eighteen year old commanded his area well and instilled confidence in his back line, although it has to be said that the home side played into Wealdstone’s hands for much of this contest.
Stones remain under strength with continuing, myriad, injury issues and the balance of the side still isn’t right so this result was an important step in the right direction.
The Stones started with two upfront; Sahr Kabba joining Elliot Benyon in the out and out striking role and it worked well enough but in fits and starts. But it was Kabba that made the first goal getting in behind the Gosport defence on the right with trickery and pace. He crossed the ball to the far post for Whichelow to head in the simplest of goals for 1-0 on 14 minutes.
The goal settled Wealdstone as they had struggled early doors to gain any real foothold in the game in an attacking sense with The Boro’ smashing the ball forward at every opportunity and pressing the midfield.
Gosport had emerged from a six goal mauling the previous Saturday at the hands of Chelmsford and were clearly eager to pull off a result, but both sides looked tentative.
The contest became increasingly physical and tetchy as both Aaron Dawson and Ben Harding were booked. Eddie Oshodi and Wes Parker mopped up well down the middle with the aerial stuff whilst Ciaron Brown got stuck in with his strength; the youthful Brown continues to show real promise at full back.
Thomas punched out expertly when under pressure from a corner but Stones were finding it difficult to find space for Elliot Benyon who toiled on manfully chasing everything.
Just as it seemed Stones would enter the break with the lead comfortably intact, they needlessly conceded. On 44 minutes a free kick was given away in a dangerous position on the right; the resultant free-kick was floated in with the home side winning the initial header, and the unmarked Ben Poate was in the right position to slam the ball into the corner.
But Stones had a dream start to the second period. Within a minute of the re-start they were back in front which will have left Boro Boss Alex Pike fuming
A long clearance from the improved Josh Urquart found Whichelow, he passed wide to Kabba and with the home defence floundering Benyon tapped home gleefully with keeper Rice diving the other way.
The goal had clearly rocked the home side and their doubts were plain for all to see as they argued amongst themselves but Stones failed to push on with their penchant for casual play again surfacing – Danny Green struggling to hold the ball and find his man .
During a period of scrappy play, the energetic Sam Cox was sent off for a second yellow in the 65th minute and the complexion of the game again changed.
Gosport’s play became all the more frantic but lacked any real cutting edge as high balls were endlessly pumped forward, sometimes reaching Thomas who clutched everything that came at him.
Stones settled again and the midfield perked up with the introduction of Ricky Wellard for Kabba. As tensions rose the combative TJ Cuthbertson went into the official’s growing list of bookings.
Stones almost extended their lead on 82 minutes after Martin Rice had parried an effort from Whichelow; the ball came out to the unlucky Green whose vicious on-target strike was brilliantly tipped over.
Stones were now repelling incessant attacks as the home side desperately pushed up seeking an equaliser.
But from a Wealdstone break, Gosport were undone a minute from normal time. A rapid ball back to Rice was adjudged to be a back pass and a dramatic free kick was awarded almost in front of the uprights. David Hunt rolled the ball to Benyon who found a hole in the massed wall and the ball was deflected in.
With five minutes of added time, despite some tension and handbags, Stones comfortably saw out the contest.
Wealdstone: Thomas, Urquhart, Brown, Parker, Oshodi, Hunt, Cox, Green (Godfrey 89), Benyon (Koroma 89), Whichelow, Kabba (Wellard 70). Subs not used: Xanthos (GK), McGleish.
Alan Palmer pictures HERE