Aylesbury 2-4 Wealdstone
2 - 4
Wealdstone achieved an astonishing turnaround in one of the most dramatic matches in their recent footballing history as the agony as the ecstasy of the FA Cup was witnessed by an enthralled crowd at Haywood Way on Saturday afternoon.
Incredibly Stones found themselves two goals down after only 11 minutes on the clock and their massed and expectant faithful had every reason to think that they were about to witness an FA Cup exit of disastrous proportions with the huge prize of a first round proper place seemingly a distant hope. But a Greg Ngoyi strike midway through a torrid first half gave them a vital life line and the platform to take them into a dream second period with goals from Kieron Forbes and Ryan Ashe (2), this achieved with 10 men after Ngoyi was sent off harshly for retaliation with 25 minutes left to play.
With the rain stopped and with the wind against them Wealdstone made the worst possible start. After one minute’s play they lost possession and Aylesbury’s striker Gareth Price made ground on the right and put his early ground strike past Sean Thomas from 20 yards. Wealdstone were stunned and looked on in shock as they continued to play with leaden boots and were all over the place as an eager and relaxed looked home side pressed forward.
On 11 minutes matters became far worse for Stones as the paralysis that gripped his team mates transferred to the normally super reliable Alan Massey who made a complete hash of a challenge in the area and he inexplicably gave away a stone wall penalty.
The dangerous Craig Henney added to his impressive goal tally with a coolly struck spot kick. Stones were a mess and another goal would surely signal the end of their Cup adventure for this season.
Sean Thomas was almost caught out with a wicked deflected strike and there was palpable relief as the ball span away for only a corner kick, as the Moles totally dominated belying their league status.
But ever so gradually Wealdstone began to settle and shake off their quite obvious nerves. The midfield of Ryan Ashe, Chris O’Leary and Mark E’beyer who had struggled to retain any effective ball finally got their foot in and started to get some forward moves going to release Charlie Mpi and Greg Ngoyi.
Stones grabbed a crucial life line on 26 minutes, when from a knock down from Alan Massey, Greg Ngoyi did what he does best and a super strike flashed past home keeper Steve Smith high into the net.
Charlie Mpi then headed over as Wealdstone cranked up a couple of gears and the away crowd, in huge majority, could sense their side’s self belief start to flood back.
Smith then saved brilliantly to prevent Wealdstone from drawing level as half time rapidly approached but still their was some scary defending as Aylesbury remained more than capable of further adding to their lead by breaking with speed and menace.
Stones came out early for the second period no doubt having been given the hairdryer treatment by their management – and rightly so.
With the increasing wind at their backs Wealdstone looked a different team from the restart and their nervous and jittery shackles were now fully released.
After only 4 minutes it was now Stones turn to stun their hosts as an alert Ryan Ashe took a great through ball from Kieron Forbes. The diminutive playmaker appeared to scuff his shot but the ball gently rolled past a prone Smith and trickled over the line and into the net to cue massive celebrations.
Wealdstone were now on fire and with the tables turned it was the home side that now struggled and they rapidly collapsed into their shells. The Moles defence creaked and rocked as Stones seized the initiative and they began to give away free kicks – notably ex Stone Mark Boyce putting in several late and uncompromising challenges as the pressure told. Lee Chappell then tore down the left flank and put in a great cross that deserved more.
Wealdstone then demonstrated their undoubted class with a superb third effort and the goal of the match on 53 minutes. Kieron Forbes who had been increasingly a threat went on a trade mark 40 yard run with the ball seemingly glued to his foot, and in one glorious movement flicked the ball past Smith and the great fight back was in full flow.
Still the Moles refused to lie down and under mounting pressure they gained some possession back and continued to move the ball around well but without any real edge as Stones defenders tightened their grip.
Following more pressure around the home side’s box, Mark Boyce again hacked down a Stones forward. Unfortunately a naïve piece of petulance from Greg Ngoyi was spotted by an alert assistant referee and after consulting with the main official decided that a red card was the correct punishment. Ngoyi will miss the next round and must be gutted. His team mates were now a man down and with 25 minutes left this was a further test of their character. But this Stones team are made of stern and steadfast stuff and it hardly noticed as their spirit shone through.
Within minutes Stones were on the attack again, this time Mark E’Beyer was released and his firm strike was brilliantly turned over by Steve Smith for possibly the save of the match.
Wealdstone reshuffled their shape and now dropped back a little to defend their lead with Mpi the lone outlet. The Moles came back and gained a couple of corners and forced Thomas into a great parried save but the away side still looked to break out and settle the tie.
The tireless Ryan Ashe then wrapped up the match and the scoring with an opportunist poached goal 13 minutes from time as the home defence thought that play would stop as they appeared to concede a foul outside the area in an almost surreal passage of play.
Charlie Mpi who had run his socks off was replaced by Chris Ellerbeck and then Danny Spendlove came on for Mark E’Beyer, both to warm applause.
Stones had won the match in a remarkable turnaround of their fortunes when all had seemed lost and will surely not allow their nerves to influence their performance in quite the same way again. But this is a young Wealdstone team and each match brings a valuable learning curve – none more so than this incredible contest.
The first round proper draw now beckons – as soon as Sunday afternoon and live on ITV. After such a performance that will live in the memory of those present for a long, long time, Stones deserve one of the more prestigious ties on offer.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Fitzgerald, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Mpi, Ngoyi, E’Beyer. Subs used: Ellerbeck, Spendlove. N/u: Gray, During, Lafayette, Beagle (GK)
Attendance: 683 (450 Wealdstone)