Wealdstone 2 Margate 0
2 - 0
A much improved second half performance from Wealdstone at The Vale on Saturday saw them to their first home victory over Margate since the 1981/82 season, and in the process moved a little closer to Ryman Premier Division safety – Stones are now only 9 points away from their initial target of 50 points.
Margate arrived at The Vale with former Wales Manager Terry Yorath and ex Everton legend Neville Southall at the helm.
Midfielder David Hicks was recalled from his loan spell at Chesham United to fill Ryan Ashe’s berth who had been laid low with a virus during the week. Up front the changes were rung again with a revitalised Ben Alexander coming in for Greg Ngoyi who is still feeling his hamstring sustained at Carshalton last week. Callum Martin was on the bench.
Following the recent dry spell the pitch at The Vale had been transformed from boggy to very firm and the ball bounced and bobbled around making control awkward for both sides. The Gate started confidently and their young side attacked with vigour down the slope, the winger Ryan Peters catching the eye immediately with some tricky play. Both teams appeared to struggle with the final ball in the early stages but Gate had greater possession.
There was danger for Stones when a foul by David Hicks brought a free kick to Margate just outside the area but the ball was curled wide. But Stones hit back with their first dangerous move of the half; Keiron Forbes swept in a great cross from the right that Davis Haule couldn’t quite connect with at the near post after 20 minutes. The away side immediately countered with a Peters shot and Sean Thomas had to be on the alert.
Stones attacks looked far more penetrating when Carl Martin pushed up and this was to prove crucial later in the match.
Ben Alexander rocketed the ball past Pat Mullin in the Gate goal on 24 minutes but the effort was ruled offside, as Stones gradually mastered the bumpy condition of the pitch.
Stones breathed a sigh of relief as the lively Peters again nipped in past Thomas but Lee Chappell was on hand to clear the ball off the line to safety. And it was Ryan Peters that almost brought Gate the lead with a good header that was pushed away expertly by Thomas at the near post. The home then hit back with an Alan Massey shot that was deflected for a corner with minutes to go in the first period.
But Margate thought they had taken the lead on 44 minutes when Sean Thomas looked to have come out second best to a headed effort but referee Adrian Gillett ruled that a leading elbow ruled out the ‘goal’ much to the displeasure of the away support gathered at the dressing room end.
Stones came out looking far more positive and determined in the second half and they tore into Margate from the first whistle. Danny Spendlove found himself in space and was just off target within seconds of the restart, although Margate quickly countered.
Spendlove was proving a handful for the gate rearguard as another effort just shaved the crossbar from distance.
Following some intensive pressure, Stones finally made the breakthrough with a great move inspired by Carl Martin. The athletic No 2 decided that enough was enough and went on a 50 yard run as the away defence opened up. Martin found Spendlove whose initial shot was blocked but Davis Haule was on hand to calmly send the ball into the back of the net with the outside of his boot on 55 minutes.
Skipper James Gray got in on the act with a header that was just over from a Hicks free kick as the game became far more open and flowing. Gate reacted by throwing on their substitutes and the game appeared to be ebbing away from them.
In what was to prove a highly significant substitution on 70 minutes from Stones, Davis Haule was replaced by emerging star Callum Martin who is still being nursed through injury.
In only his second real touch of the ball, Callum Martin found himself with bags of time and space to shoot brilliantly past Mullin from 20 yards for 2-0 to mark his entrance in real style.
Stones were now in full control and were looking to add to their tally and they thought they had achieved it with 8 minutes remaining. Callum Martin broke through the middle and was entirely free on goal. He unselfishly passed to the on rushing Ben Alexander who somehow contrived to blast the ball widely over from one yard out. This was a real shame for Alexander who had worked tirelessly all afternoon and had held the ball up extremely well – a real problem in previous games.
Stones had done enough to take all the points and a hard working Margate side were well beaten in the end by a home side that finally got their act together. Next up is Billericay Town on Tuesday evening at The Vale (March 3).
Wealdstone: Thomas, Martin, Chappell, Gray, Massey, Hicks, Forbes, O’Leary, Haule, Alexander, Spendlove. Subs used: Callum Martin , Jones. N/u: Clarke, McCoy,Hilaire.
MoM: Carl Martin