Wealdstone 1 – 1 Dartford
1 - 1
Wealdstone’s remarkable stamina continues to inch them toward the play-off finishing line with a battling display that forced a deserved draw with Champions Dartford. And with other results helping them out they live to do it all again; such was this dramatic evening at the St Georges Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Stones have two matches left – on Thursday evening against play off rivals Tonbridge Angels and on Saturday against Carshalton Athletic – and maximum points could still see them secure a coveted play-off position.
Danny Spendlove returned to the starting line up following injury problems but was later carried off with a nasty looking knee injury following a clash with Dartford’s Elliot Bradbrook who was also had to be replaced. It is unlikely that the influential Spendlove will be fit to play in Stone’s remaining games.
Although Stones made a solid start to this surprisingly open match, Dartford soon showed the 401 crowd why they are worthy Champions. Their main striker Lee Burns had an excellent game and seemed to be attracted to the ball like a magnet as Stones left side was constantly being pulled apart and exposed in the first half.
But Wealdstone certainly contributed to an entertaining opening period and good runs from Spendlove, Kieron Forbes and Chris O’Leary just lacked the finishing touch from a prolific front player that they have lacked for most of the season.
The alert and mobile Lee Burns spurned at least three excellent chances to take his side into the lead and combined with some last ditch defending Stones seemed to be holding out long enough to gain a foothold in the match.
But on 18 minutes the Darts did make the break through when another ball out to the left flank left Stones defence exposed and Lee Noble smashed the ball past Sean Thomas in one swift cross field movement.
Thomas then pulled off a magnificent full length save from Allan Tait to keep Stones in the match as Dartford threatened to run riot. Once again Wealdstone’s main problem was holding the ball up and far too much pressure was being exerted on the defence that nevertheless coped manfully with Darren Locke and Marvin McCoy outstanding.
The home side weathered the storm and came back into the match with two incidents involving Matt McClure. Firstly his turn and powerful strike just flashed past the far post with Darts Keeper Andy Young helpless; then McClure had a compelling case for a penalty turned down just before the break.
Stones had a more determined attacking look about them from the start of the second half as they played up the slope. Again Danny Spendlove launched off on some great mazy runs but there was frustratingly no end product to show for all the effort and flair.
After a decent corner attempt from Stones Forbes was replaced by Greg Ngoyi and he immediately livened up the home attack.
In a great four man passing move up the slope with fine work from Ngoyi and Spendlove, the lack of a cutting edge was again evident but at least the screw was being turned on the Darts who were now having very little effective possession.
Marvin McCoy attempted to take matters into his own hands and showed the forwards how it should be done but moves broke down in the final third but still Stones pressed forward regardless in the hope of a lucky break.
Charlie Mpi entered the fray for a tiring Chris O’Leary and his athletic presence served to put even more pressure on the Darts back line. Mpi was unlucky to see his instant strike flash just over the bar after a great headed flick on by Ngoyi
With 10 minutes left on the clock and pressure mounting up strode the ebullient Lee Chappell for another of his extraordinary torpedo like throws. Summoning more power than usual Chappell propelled the ball at pace into the Dartford box and Alan Massey managed to get the faintest of touches to the ball as it flashed into the far corner with Greg Ngoyi following up; but it was Massey’s goal and it was enough to keep Stones in the play -off hunt.
There was still time for cool Man of the match Sean Thomas to somehow stop Rob Howarth’s late effort with his chest but Stones held on for the draw.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, McClure, Logie, Spendlove. Subs used: Osborne, Ngoyi, Mpi. N/u: Lavers, Fitzgerald