Wealdstone 0 – 2 Hendon
0 - 2
Wealdstone meekly surrendered against ‘derby’ opponents on Tuesday evening in a thoroughly miserable second half performance that at times almost defied belief. The Stones faithful in the 367 Vale crowd had to remind themselves that they were watching a side that has had serious and consistent pretensions to a play-off spot come the end of April. Not on this showing.
Whilst Stones did enough in a reasonable first half against a very average looking Hendon side they gifted the away side two goals that included a penalty in a dire second period that ranked alongside the awful Waltham Abbey debacle a few weeks previously. The self destruct button was pressed repeatedly and despite the commendable urging of Jimmy Gray, one of very few players to emerge with any credit on the night, he simply couldn’t lift his team mates to string meaningful passes together let alone mount serious goal threatening attacks.
The question is: why? Tiredness, injuries, youthful mental brittleness, too many games, not enough games, suspensions and the weather are all possible reasons but one thing is certain: Stones have to pull themselves around soon or they will soon be scrapping for points at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier table. At least on this performance they will.
Following a delayed kick -off Stones did start quite brightly and mounted several attacks; in a changed formation Marvin McCoy played on the left and Dean Smith filled in at right back.
Stones claimed that the ball had crossed the line as Greens keeper Berkeley Laurencin was beaten by a deflected ball that was headed away. The crowd in line with the goal were convinced a goal had been scored but the officials waved play on.
Callum Martin had a shot deflected over as The Greens showed virtually no ambition in attack as Stones midfield tackled well led by some tenacious play from Chris O’Leary. Darren Locke and James Gray held sway aerially for most of the half – in fact the aggressive Gray was unlucky with a couple of good headed efforts on goal.
Hendon’s first shot at Sean Thomas’s goal came after a full 30 minutes of play and it was comfortably held.
Play then gradually deteriorated into a scrappy midfield contest when superior possession from Wealdstone delivered little or no cutting edge. Danny Spendlove and Marvin McCoy went on several runs which to fair with a little luck on another day may have produced something.
A taste of things to come became apparent as the half drew to a close as Stones began to concede more and more ground and free kicks in dangerous positions – fortunately Hendon did little or nothing to threaten with these set plays.
The away side looked by far the more urgent and interested right from the first whistle and began to use the ball far more effectively prompted by Lee O’Leary in the midfield.
Jamie Busby went close and then received the first booking of the contest – several more were to follow as frustrations rose.
On 59 minutes Wealdstone lost possession once too often when Marvin McCoy allowed the ball to get away from him giving Lee O’Leary the opportunity to shot past Thomas from 20 yards for an excellent goal.
Stones did manage one decent effort when Jamie Osborne should have done better following a good 1-2 move with Martin.
But Stones play was now littered with mistakes and lost possession – Adam Logie in particular was having a mare of a game. One can only assume he was carrying an injury as this is otherwise inexplicable for a player of his experience and commitment. In fact Logie was soon replaced by Charlie Mpi but not before he was booked.
Stones desperately needed a spark from somewhere – anywhere – but it was simply not forthcoming in a hugely frustrating and sometimes shambolic passage of play for the home side.
Youngster Reece Yorke was pitched in after Smith came off injured and acquitted himself well in a defensive role that could do nothing to assist his impotent midfield and forward colleagues.
Matters got worse on 79 minutes as Martin was adjudged to have body checked Peter Dean and Jamie Busby easily beat Thomas from the spot kick. Game over.
Stones will need to raise their heads and show some fighting spirit away on Saturday if this result is not to be repeated against a strong Cray Wanderers side that are moving up the table.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Smith, Gray, Locke, Ashe, Logie, O’Leary, Osborne, Martin, Spendlove. Subs used: Mpi, Yorke, Ebeyer. N/u: Fitzgerald, Beagle (GK)