Wealdstone 1- 0 Margate
1 - 0
It may not have been pretty but this vitally important win by a very determined Stones side on Wednesday evening has handed them a play-off life line and, more significantly, a massive confidence boost for upcoming games, shaking off the memories of a nightmare performance at Earlsmead on Easter Monday. Stones move back up the table to 7th as a result and now face another huge game at St Georges Stadium on Saturday when play-off contenders Borehamwood are the visitors.
The difference between these two hard working but goal shy sides, both playing under enormous pressure for differing reasons, was a second half Lee Chappell strike that was inexplicably fumbled into the net by Margate’s keeper Jamie keeper who had otherwise put in a faultless display for his relegation threatened but rejuvenated side.
Margate have recently signed a number of new players, mainly from Kentish rivals Maidstone and they looked lively and up for a battle from the first whistle. Their key duo of Jay Saunders and James Pinnock looked very capable and for the first quarter of this frantic contest they held the upper hand but without really threatening Stones replacement keeper Sam Beagle who generally excelled with his handling all night and gave the back line confidence.
Danny Spendlove took some time to get into the heart of matters but when he did he made some telling contributions – the first of which created a decent chance for a battling Charlie Mpi after 25 minutes.
A few minutes later and Beagle’s only real error of the entire match was to delay coming out for a ball and Gate’s Leroy Huggins almost netted but his strike whistled just wide of the post.
Both sides were contriving to move the ball around at 100 mph and control and composure was at an absolute premium. But just before the break Stones should have taken the lead following an improved spell. Callum Martin raced clear on the right but his powerful strike from 12 yards out was expertly pushed away by Turner.
Stones continued to battle and increased the pressure on Margate who nevertheless refused to turn down the wick themselves. Darren Locke and Alan Massey were both outstanding at the centre of defence and this aerial supremacy and aggression effectively stopped Gates strikers from picking up any cheap possession.
Finally, on 63 minutes, Wealdstone made the breakthrough in this game of extremely few clear cut chances. Lee Chappell found space on the left and with his right foot flashed in a powerful strike from 20 yards but straight at keeper Jamie Turner who seemed in two minds as to how to deal with what was coming at him. In almost comical fashion – but certainly not for the unfortunate stopper – the ball span from his grasp and into the net.
Sam Beagle made a great save at the foot of the post as Gate hit back looking for a rapid reply to this set back.
Stones inability to hold the ball up in the final third of the pitch almost cost them dear as the away side started to regain possession and moved the ball around to good effect but lacked the killer touch in front of goal.
Ryan Ashe, a substitute for Louis Lavers did well with a Martin one-two but his shot lacked sufficient power to trouble Turner.
Wealdstone survived some late pressure from Margate but defended with great determination, and, for once of late, had the rub of the green when it mattered and held out for a massive three points.
Wealdstone: Beagle, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Logie, Massey, E’Beyer, Lavers, Mpi, Martin, Spendlove. Subs used: Ashe, Ngoyi. N/u: Osborne, McClure, O’Leary.