Farnborough 3 – 0 Wealdstone
3 - 0
Sometimes in football you simply have to accept that you are beaten by the better team and this was certainly the case for Wealdstone at an impressive but half built Cherrywood Road ground in Hampshire. Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett had said in the build up to this 3rd Qualifying Round FA Trophy match that Farnborough looked better in attack than Rotherham United and he was not wrong – Stones were largely outplayed in every department and were effectively removed from the competition by half time on Saturday.
Farnborough, reformed in 2007, having arisen rapidly from the ashes of liquidation and now clearly massively refinanced were simply awesome in attack, dominant in the midfield and very comfortable at the back. And Stones, without the injured Alan Massey, were under pressure from the word go, despite having Greg Ngoyi restored to their frontline, partnering the improving Chris Ellerbeck.
In conditions of incessant rain, Wealdstone made the worst possible start and were caught cold by a goal from the impressive Kezie Ibe after only two minutes play when he was able to find time and space to drive past Sean Thomas.
Following that initial incisive burst from the home side, Stones started to pass the ball and made some inroads down the right flank via Kieron Forbes and Marvin McCoy. But a big Farnborough side looked hugely confident and strode around the pitch looking to feed their outstanding and expensively assembled forward line of Ibe, Bradley Bubb and leading scorer Dean McDonald, currently being tracked by Tony Mowbray’s Celtic, and they toyed with Stones back line that nonetheless battled on manfully.
Despite the unrelenting pressure on the away side, Stones did achieve an opening and had they seized the opportunity it may have dented Farnborough’s confidence and shifted the emphasis. But Lee Chappell’s strike against an upright after 10 minutes, when put clean through on giant Nicky Morgan’s goal, was their only chance of the half to restore parity.
Dean McDonald shot wide as Stones centre backs, Darren Locke and Rob Fitzgerald, just about held the line under an attack that used guile, skill and pace rather than the humping aerial long ball they are more used to dealing with.
Stones had a let off on 20 minutes with a tremendous strike off the cross bar with Thomas stretched. McDonald then lashed a shot goal wards only for it to be deflected out for a corner. But 7 minutes later Stones deficit was doubled. Sean Thomas thought he had retrieved the ball on the dead ball line but it was nicked off him and centre back Steve Robinson calmly stroked the ball home as Thomas collapsed in despair.
Thomas atoned with a great save as Chris O’Leary and Robinson were booked in a clash. But the home side effectively finished the game off as a contest just before the interval. Man of the match Daryl Mahon crossed brilliantly for Bradley Bubb to head home emphatically at the far post.
Stones had more of the play in an improved second half but the damage had been done as Farnborough eased off the gas somewhat.
Mark E’Beyer had a good shot pushed away by Morgan for a corner, as Lee Chappell found space down the left flank and put some decent crosses in to at last concern the home back line. Worryingly, mid half, Kieran Forbes limped off to be replaced by Danny Spendlove and then Charlie Mpi came on for a subdued Greg Ngoyi who clearly needs games under his belt following his lay off through suspension.
Stones finally got their act together through the middle on 68 minutes and Ryan Ashe was put clear only for his strike to agonisingly strike an upright and the ball was cleared. Ashe managed to get another effort away near the end but it was not his or his side’s day and at least the score line retained respectability for Wealdstone as they finished on a better note.
Manager Gordon Bartlett cannot fault his side for sheer effort, spirit and commitment – that now goes without question. Perhaps his young charges were a little flat following their outstanding efforts of recent weeks, but they lost their proud unbeaten away record to a side with greater resources and weaponry at their disposable, and on this occasion money really did talk….very loudly indeed.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Fitzgerald, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Ngoyi, Ellerbeck, E’Beyer. Subs used: Spendlove, Mpi, During N/u: Beagle (GK), Gray