Wealdstone 1 – 4 Carshalton Athletic
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Wealdstone fluffed their lines completely in a first half horror show in this play-off crunch match at an expectant St Georges Stadium on a beautiful spring afternoon when the scene had seemed to be set for a repeat of Thursday evening’s heroic performance. Emphatically it was not to be.
This was a match too far for a Stones side that looked dead on their feet once the Robins first goal was scored. Super human this Wealdstone team are not and eight demanding matches in the last fortnight had finally taken its debilitating toll.
A very decent crowd of 735 had turned up to see if Stones could take their play-off dreams one final stage further and into next weeks semi-final. But relegation haunted Carshalton Athletic had other ideas, and in former Stone and hot shot striker Richard Jolly and Byron Harrison they have a formidable forward line. Harrison in fact had turned down the opportunity to play for Stones when he left Ashford; but rather than sign for a play-off chasing team the lanky striker decided instead to join another club at the wrong end of the table when the lure of the Lire intervened.
And so it was; a clash between one of the Ryan Premier Leagues over achievers facing a team that has inexplicably under achieved for most of the season but nonetheless has consistently had the better of Wealdstone; Stones have one draw and six defeats in their last seven league meetings at the hands of their moneyed Surrey rivals.
The match kicked off amid a noisy and carnival like atmosphere with a vocal contingent of Robin’s fans decked out in fancy dress – the kind of get-up that only works if you win but looks and feels ridiculous and embarrassing if you lose. Sadly they had no such worries on a day when their team ran riot and it was Stones that appeared red faced but out of fruitless physical effort rather than any embarrassment.
It was the home team that had by far the better of the opening play – Ryan Ashe getting into a good position down the slope but he shot just wide with the Robin’s defence looked hesitant.
But it was the away side that soon looked the more threatening. After Richard Jolly had blasted a free kick at Sean Thomas that was well parried they won a corner. And from the well flighted kick, Byron Harrison headed in at the far post for a shock 6 minute lead.
Stones then simply went to pieces and made a proverbial pig’s ear of most of the rest of a torrid first period when absolutely nothing went right and their legs collectively morphed into stump like non effectiveness.
Clearly buoyed by their goal and having shaken off their early nerves the Robins started to slice through the Stones defence. Harrison made it 2-0 on 20 minutes and Stones tired limbs and minds combined to create a defensive paralysis of x-rated proportions.
Richard Jolly was making his trade mark intelligent runs for Carshalton and the home fans realised what they had been missing but for the sake of a few more quid on the budget; quite a few more in fact but that would be hugely churlish and sour grape like.
Jolly soon scored, only two minutes later, with a delightful finish past a stranded Sean Thomas who was to pick the ball out of the net one more time as Harrison completed his hat-trick on the half hour mark to finish the game as a contest.
In between the third and fourth goals, Wealdstone gave their fans some brief hope when Greg Ngoyi flicked home past Nick Hamann with a simple goal that uniquely exposed the Robin’s defence in a first period that left most in the ground open mouthed.
Kieron Forbes did liven up Stones midfield when he replaced the toiling Adam Logie just before the break and he did his level best to get forward moves going with some surging runs late in the match.
Understandably the Robins took their foot off the pedal in the second period and Stones did have a much larger share of the possession. But the margin of the gap in the score line was simply too much to make up and the away side were certainly in no mood for a home come back of miraculous proportions to take place.
The referee blew his final whistle on a disappointing day but all at Wealdstone will soon be reflecting on a season of real progress and huge pride on and off the pitch. This young and talented team has proved that it can deliver and with a bit of luck, some greater resourcing and perhaps a mild winter next season the club should be better placed to achieve the holy grail of promotion.
Stones finish a very creditable 6th in the final table; it transpired that a win by two clear goals would have booked a semi-final place at Sutton. Roll on next season.
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Logie, O’Leary, McClure, Ngoyi, Spend love. Subs used: Forbes, Osborne, Lavers. N/u: Fitzgerald, Mpi.