Wealdstone 2- 1 Harrow Borough
2 - 1
Wealdstone finally overcame a stubborn Harrow Borough side in this replayed FA Trophy tie on damp Tuesday evening at The Vale, to set up a tough encounter with Southern League Premier Division table toppers, Farnborough Town in the next round.
In a match lacking atmosphere that Stones and their supporters clearly viewed as an awkward distraction to Sunday’s massive FA Cup tie with League Two outfit Rotherham United, Borough had several good chances to snatch a victory over their rivals but poor finishing cost them dear. The home side took full advantage of two clear penalty decisions in either half, and could and should have had a third spot kick that would have settled the game – and their nerves – in the second half as Stones hung on to see out a frustrating end to the tie.
Gordon Bartlett decided to field a full strength side with Charlie Mpi partnering Greg Ngoyi in attack. But it was the away side that looked sharper in the early stages with Jake Lovell and Rocky Baptiste looking lively and incisive. Jonathan Constant for the Reds shot wide when well placed after 7 minutes as Stones were pegged back.
But Stones hit back playing up the slope and Chris O’Leary, back from suspension, shot over from a good Lee Chappell cross into the box. Then a Ryan Ashe free kick caused havoc as Borough just about cleared their lines.
The away side missed a great chance to take the lead on 20 minutes as a strike was blasted well wide of Sean Thomas’s far post. Then Alan Massey was caught out with a quick break and was fortunate to see the chance go begging.
Stones trademark pace and energy on the break caught out the Reds defence somewhat against the run of play. On the half hour mark, Charlie Mpi’s turn and run into the box made him the target of a clumsy challenge and the Referee immediately pointed to the spot. Ryan Ashe confidently smashed home the penalty.
Mpi almost doubled his side’s lead as he took a great through ball from Kieron Forbes but couldn’t quite release his shot. Stones ended the half in the ascendancy.
Wealdstone looked to kill the game off quickly after the restart and Ashe fired wide within a minute. But Harrow had other ideas and pressed the ball more effectively as Stones began to lose possession in the midfield.
Just as Wealdstone appeared to be toiling, Greg Ngoyi stole into the area and struck firmly at goal but keeper Andre Baptiste saved brilliantly and then tipped over from a Marvin McCoy dipping cross to keep the home side at bay.
Stones had a decent period of attacking play and from this they went further ahead, again from a penalty won by Charlie Mpi who was again bundled over. This time Ashe stepped aside and Greg Ngoyi blasted home on 65 minutes.
Stones then had a further stone wall penalty appeal turned down when it was Mark E’Beyer’s turn to be clattered in the area and that would have undoubtedly settled the tie. But from that point on in the a rather flat tie, where queuing for Rotherham tickets appeared to be a more pressing reason for being at the match, Stones sat back and allowed Borough to gain the initiative.
And when Peter Lyall’s shot with 18 minutes to go was palmed into the net by the normally assured hands of Sean Thomas they had their tails up again and it appeared that an equaliser and the miserable spectre of extra time was a distinct possibility.
But unlike Saturday’s encounter at Earlsmead, Stones held out surviving several late corners; they can now relax and look forward to the glare of FA Cup first round publicity and a classic David v Goliath encounter at The Vale on Sunday.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Fitzgerald, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Mpi, Ngoyi, E’Beyer. Subs used: Gray, Ellerbeck. N/u: Spendlove, During, Beagle (GK)