Chesham United 2 – 2 Wealdstone
2 - 2
In this cruel, cruel game of football, both sides will have cause to feel aggrieved in this dramatic FA Cup tie at The Meadow on Saturday; Wealdstone’s hugely frustrating and disappointing season continued in the most gut wrenching of circumstances when the home side grabbed an unlikely equaliser in the 97th minute.
And when Referee Mr J Farries finally blew his whistle, on 98 minutes he would start to reflect on a match that saw two Chesham players dismissed and their Manager Andy Leese sent from the dugout. Leese and his players were incensed when what they thought was a perfectly good goal was earlier disallowed for offside by the Assistant’s flag; but some rare attacking adventure at the death was rewarded when they scored a late, late equaliser that never looked likely to come as they hung back for the vast majority of the match with a player down from a sending off as early as the 12th minute.
This was a shocker of an outcome for Stones as they had looked very comfortable for long periods with the extra man advantage but failed to really ignite and kill the game off in the second half – and they certainly had several chances to do so against their high flying Southern League opponents.
What made matters even worse for Stones was that Chesham’s late night goal came after Peter Dean had broken clear and should have buried the ball past Shane Gore; instead the chance and the ball was lost and the play was moved rapidly to the midfield where young Kurtney Brooks crucially lost possession and Steve Wales was gifted the chance to clip the ball past Jonathan North which left the vociferous Stones contingent of 160 mortified and then apoplectic when they checked their watches and considered their sides suicidal loss of possession.
Stones started this very difficult looking Cup tie with a 4-5-1 formation designed to combat the home side’s powerful midfield, but lone striker Greg Ngoyi looked isolated with a lack of supply through the middle early on.
But when Ngoyi finally managed to twist skilfully clear on goal after 12 minutes he was brought down with a wild challenge a fraction outside the box. Defender John Kyriacou was immediately sent packing by the officials but the resultant free kick brought no reward. The home side hastily reshuffled and dramatically reduced their attacking intent in order to bolster their defensive capabilities. But within 3 minutes with their first real attack The Generals took the lead to rock the away side. Leon Archer broke clear through the middle and although the ball was half cleared, Ricci Crace was on hand to get a deflected shot past the despairing arms and legs of North.
Ironically Stones were then forced to change their formation when Dean Smith suffered a reoccurrence of his hamstring and was replaced by Scott Fitzgerald allowing Wealdstone to revert to a more positive looking 4-4-2 . Stung by conceding a goal when they least expected it Stones appeared reluctant to take advantage and were slow to hit back. Following a period of scrappy midfield play, Stones finally got their act together and equalised on 35 minutes. A great Wes Parker header from a Peter Dean cross came crashing off the cross bar and Ngoyi was on hand to bury the loose ball in the net past Shane Gore.
Stones now realised that were a man to the good and that Chesham’s defence was porous and piled forward and they enjoyed their best spell of the entire match but couldn’t take the lead, despite a good effort again from Ngoyi who appeared to be carrying an injury.
Stones needed a high tempo game in the second period to take advantage of Chesham’s inability to sustain any threat in the forward areas and they were content to allow the Blues to take the initiative; Wealdstone were therefore comfortable but lacked spark and energy in the danger areas, although Kieron Forbes and Chris O’Leary worked their socks off with Alan Massey their outstanding player, mopping up any rare attacks.
Stones then frustratingly began to concede free kicks in dangerous areas but Chesham lacked sufficient dead ball nous to take advantage. Things gradually picked up for the away side as Ngoyi’s good run ended with a vicious shot to Gore’s side netting, then Alex Dyer crossed too close to the keeper from an excellent wide position as Forbes pushed on. Then, virtually out of nothing, Stones took the lead on 76 minutes with a delightful piece of opportunism from Scott Fitzgerald who, cool as a cucumber, lobbed into the net over a stranded Gore to cue wild celebrations behind the goal and on the pitch.
This seemed to knock the stuffing out of The Generals who back peddled, lacked ideas and energy and were often caught in possession. But still Stones failed to ram home the advantage and they were to eventually pay a high price. As the game moved into added time the home side thought they had equalised but the Assistant Referee ruled otherwise with a firmly raised flag to spark protests which brought two bookings and Andy Leese being ordered from the dug out.
With the away crowd baying for the final whistle at nigh on 5pm Stones snatched a draw from the jaws of an FA Cup victory giving Chesham a second bite at the third round draw and the prize money that they scarcely would have believed possible.
Stones Management now have to lift their side psychologically for Monday night‘s replay at The Vale but their young players would have learnt another harsh footballing lesson in that the game is never, ever, over until the final whistle blows – however late that may be!
Wealdstone: North, Smith, Chappell, Parker, Massey, Brooks, Dean, O’Leary, Ngoyi, Dyer, Forbes. Subs used: Fitzgerald, Spendlove, Lavers. N/u: Pattison, Thomas(GK), Locke.