Ramsgate 2-2 Wealdstone
2 - 2
Thomas Saves..and makes a point!
In a highly dramatic finish to this hard fought encounter at Ramsgate on Saturday, Wealdstone goal keeper Sean Thomas saved a penalty with barely two minutes left on the clock and in the process saved a deserved point for his team’s efforts. And despite Stones turning this Ryman league Premier match around to take the lead in the first half, it was a defiant backs to the wall performance in a second half battle, not without controversy.
Stones manager Gordon Bartlett’s pre match comments indicated that he knew that this would be a tough physical contest with an in form Ramsgate side unlikely to alter their very direct approach. And those braving the elements at Southwood Stadium were not to be disappointed with the Rams quick forward movement and long raking balls to their tall front men creating problems for Stones from the first whistle.
James Gray continued to play up front with the recalled Davis Haule with the aim being to combat a physically powerful Rams defence; young striker Greg Ngoyi was substitute.
From kick off Ramsgate looked dangerous and with the Wealdstone players seemingly still on the coach, an eager home side took the lead after only 5 minutes play. A long cross field ball found the Rams tricky midfielder Ben Brown who beat Lee Chappell and a quick accurate shot from outside the box gave a diving Sean Thomas no chance.
But Stones gradually weathered the home side’s attacks and early superior movement and began to assert themselves with some decent passing play on a sticky, heavy surface. Ryan Ashe began to boss the midfield and spray passes out to the flanks allowing Keiron Forbes and Danny Spendlove to get forward and put crosses in to test Rams keeper Jamie Turner. Alan Massey got forward into the box and was unlucky not to get onto the end of an Ashe cross. James Gray was just off target with a good strike and then another excellent run down the right wing from Forbes deserved more.
Stones were now dominant and it looked like the equaliser would soon arrive. But when Chris O’Leary found himself in a position to head the ball expertly across the goal another chance went begging as Turner gratefully gathered under pressure.
Stones possession and creative forward play finally paid off with a superb lobbed goal from a delighted Davis Haule on 35 minutes, following a good penalty shout when Spendlove appeared to be crudely pushed in the box.
Ramsgate were now back pedalling and looking decidedly vulnerable as Wealdstone pushed hard to take the lead. And this they soon did when a brilliant Davis Haule shot found the far corner of Turner’s net for a deserved 2-1 lead.
Stones went in satisfied with their first half work but a great save by Thomas just before the break reminded them that Rams were far from finished.
The second period was an entirely different affair as the Rams took the game to Stones with the strong wind in their favour.
Stones did present a threat whenever Lee Chappell was able to get close even to propel his throws into the box but Sean Thomas was being called into action far too often. The Rams Ben Brown had a good shot saved and corners were being won with some regularity as Wealdstone’s defence cleared their lines but the overworked midfield were not finding Gray or Haule to hold the ball up to mount attacks. Alan Massey , Carl Martin and Darren Locke in the Stones rearguard were still managing to clear the ball but it was all becoming too desperate at times as the home side sensed an equaliser. James Gray was having a particularly frustrating afternoon as he was continually caught called off side and was eventfully booked for his protestations – this will result in a suspension.
As Stones were increasingly conceding ground and possession they gave away free kicks in the danger areas and once again Thomas was called into action making last ditch saves. Rams management threw on all their available substitutes in a gamble to get something from the match.
It seemed the pressure had to give and eventually it did, but it took an unexpected strike from distance to do it and from Rams centre half Ryan Royston on 74 minutes for 2-2
Stones were now well and truly up against it, but continued to battle hard and repel attacks.
Wealdstone then broke quickly in retaliation and a great run through the middle by Forbes found Davis Haule with time and space but the ball bobbled and he blazed over.
In a highly controversial and dramatic final 10 minutes, Ramsgate felt hard done by and were amazed as a headed ‘goal’ was called back by a foul that only referee Phillip Knight saw. Thomas was then rounded by a Rams forward and a goal line clearance seemed to save Stones chances of a point.
But then Rams were awarded a late, late penalty with the referee perhaps feeling that matters needed squaring. But Sean Thomas had other ideas, saving the strike and then falling on the ball, preventing a follow up goal to the huge relief of Stones players, management and travelling supporters.
Commenting after the match, Gordon Bartlett seemed happy enough with a point in the circumstances ‘ Their manager (Jim Ward) was impressed with our ability to withstand the second half bombardment and said to me that if Ramsgate finish above Stones then they will be in the play offs!’
In other news, midfielder David Hicks has been loaned out to Chesham United for one month to ensure regular football
Wealdstone: Thomas, Martin, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Haule, Gray, Spendlove. Subs (all unused): McCoy, Woods(GK), Ngoyi, Floweday.