Wealdstone 1-1 Maidstone United
1 - 1
Wealdstone’s line up prior to kick-off looked more than strong enough to see off basement side Maidstone United with Wes Parker, at right full back, and Scott Fitzgerald fully restored to the side; but when all is said and done Stones single point advantage over their rivals in the Ryman Premier table is reflective of an equally struggling side, and so it proved again on Saturday with a point apiece an unsatisfactory outcome for both clubs.
In a tale of disputed penalties the home Stones survived a late first half spot kick. But having taken a second period lead through substitute Greg Ngoyi their advantage was snuffed out with a second controversial penalty for handball late in the game, resulting in raised tempers and two dismissals’ – coach Mickey Johnson and then Wes Parker, receiving a red card after the final whistle, highlighting the current frustrating times at The Vale.
Although Parker and Fitzgerald were back in the starting line-up, inspirational midfielder Kieron Forbes was on the side lines following his sending off and suspension after the FA Cup clash at Met Police a fortnight ago and he was undoubtedly missed. Meanwhile, stalwart midfielder Chris O’Leary reached a 200 appearance milestone in this clash of the Stones.
Stones started comfortably enough and soon found plenty of time space in the midfield areas but the pattern of the afternoon became frustratingly apparent with the midfielders not finding the forward pairing of George Daly and Fitzgerald who seemed to be too far apart.
Maidstone finally started to gain some possession and had a great chance to open the scoring on 22 minutes when the home left side was exposed but the opportunity went begging when the ball was flashed wide.
And just a few minutes later Colin Richmond should have buried the ball past Jonathan North but he snatched at the gifted chance and Stones were off the hook.
Alan Massey bundled the ball past away keeper Andy Walker on the half hour mark but Referee Steve Rubery ruled the effort out for an infringement. Stones were looking flat and decidedly lethargic as they struggled to find any sort of effective penetration against a sluggish looking United back line.
Stones first corner of the half five minutes from the interval almost reaped reward but the ball was headed away from the goal line in a scramble. George Daly sustained a nasty looking knee injury as he fell awkwardly and had to be replaced by Greg Ngoyi.
The half looked to be heading for a incident free 0-0 but somehow from the injury restart Darren Locke stuck his arm out in the box clearing an innocuous ball and the well sighted Mr Rubery immediately pointed to the spot.
United’s Adrian Stone took the kick and blasted the ball against an upright and North reacted sharply to gather the rebound to preserve a goal-less parity. This incident summed up the away sides luck and ineptitude but fortunes would later reverse.
The 385 crowd were looking for a significant improvement in the second period and in response Wealdstone looked far livelier down the slope as play opened out and became more stretched.
From a corner a United defender headed over from a good Peter Dean cross who had started to come alive on the flank after a quiet first period. Scott Fitzgerald finally carved out a decent shooting chance after a Danny Spendlove flick-on early on but Walker was equal to the effort.
The away also opened out and attacked with greater purpose and Stones found themselves under some sustained pressure mid half. Darren Locke almost atoned for his unpunished hand ball blunder with an acrobatic over head kick that went just wide of the upright.
But Play moved back up the incline and Jonathan North pulled off a great full length save, then Adrian Stone for United was again off target.
The home side’s increasing joy down the right flank finally brought a break through when Greg Ngoyi turned well and his firm ground strike from 15 yards easily beat Walker and rebounded in off the far post for 1-0
North was called into action again, deservedly earning his man of the match accolade, with another excellent save as United desperately sought an equaliser. On 83 minutes it arrived, though controversy reigned as Mr Rubery adjudged that Alan Massey had hand balled in the area after a shot had blasted into him. It certainly looked like a clear cut case of ‘ball to hand’ but protests fell on deaf ears and Colin Richmond put the ball in the net. A point gained but the malaise continues and the question for Stones remains: Quelle est la réponse?
Wealdstone: North, Parker, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Dyer, Dean, O’Leary, Daly, Fitzgerald, Spendlove. Sub used: Ngoyi, Lavers. N/u: Brooks, Cronin, Thomas (GK)
MoM: Jonathan North