Wealdstone 2- 2 Potters Bar Town
2 - 2
An outrageous piece of goal scoring panache from Scott Fitzgerald in the 94th minute of this FA Trophy tie dramatically prevented Wealdstone from exiting a second major Cup competition in the space of 5 days.
Potters Bar Town had just scored what appeared to everyone, in the newly sparsely populated St Georges Stadium, to be the certain winner on 93 minutes 30 seconds; everyone that is except for Fitzgerald, who took one touch from the re-start and struck a sublime effort from fully 50 yards that sailed over Shane MacWeeney into the net for a spectacular finish – the referee blowing for time literally seconds later.
The goal was perhaps harsh on the brooding MacWeeney, who trialled with Stones this close season, as he had previously kept his Ryman Division 1 side in the match with some excellent saves. But this draw cannot paper over another stuttering low-confidence performance from a Wealdstone side that have now only won a single game in nine outings. Not that Stones didn’t have their moments and certainly put together some snappy passing moves at times but still lack the spark and composure that comes from confidence and mental strength on the park – particularly when a goal is conceded, heads can drop like autumn leaves.
Perhaps Fitzgerald’s dazzling late strike will provide the vital spark to finally ignite Stones disappointing season – let’s hope so because something, somehow, needs to stop this run of excruciating defeats and draws.
Kicking off in front of a subdued crowd following Monday’s punishing and expensive visit from the Met, Stones started brightly enough and with the injured Scott Fitzgerald surprising included all things were again possible; Alan Massey almost stole in after a Greg Ngoyi effort was hooked forward after only 3 minutes.
But the Scholars soon hit back when a free header almost caught Jonathan North out only a few moments later. The first of several good stops from Shane MacWeeney occurred when, after a great Messi type run from Kieron Forbes, Ngoyi’s firm strike was tipped over.
Stones were putting together some decent ‘give it and go’ passing moves playing up the slope and into a strong wind but the final delivery was often inaccurate or well defended by a lively Town defence. Ngoyi again went close as the home side found more space than of late and tried hard to impose themselves on the game.
Scott Fitzgerald had to this point been peripheral, but he suddenly showed his class in one sweet movement when he controlled a high ball and volleyed agonisingly just over from 20 yards. Against the general run of play, The Scholars rocked Stones and grabbed the lead on 26 minutes. A decent forward move allowed a ball to be played into space for Elvis Balik to shoot past North’s dive.
To their credit Stones hit back quickly and Mark E’Beyer was unlucky with a speculative strike hit the woodwork from fully 30 yards out. Jake Parratt for Town hit over the bar when well placed as Stones pushed up; Alex Dyer was unlucky when a great raking cross was not touched in. There was concern as Chris O’Leary was felled and had to be substituted by Louis Lavers; the defence was reshuffled and Forbes was moved into a midfield position.
After the restart, Stones were almost caught on the break after a Forbes ball was intercepted and their shape looked as ragged as recent performances. But Stones gradually got going again as Fitzgerald was unlucky when his goal bound effort was charged down by a brave MacWeeney at close range. Wealdstone were now enjoying their best spell of the match in terms of attacking possession and pressure but the equaliser seemed as elusive as a decent playing budget.
But suddenly, out of almost nothing, Stones grabbed the goal they and the pensive crowd craved. On 57 minutes Mark E’Beyer’s perfunctory strike seemed for all the world to be going out for a goal kick but fortunately Peter Dean’s cloth cap work rate allowed him to steal in unseen at the far post and sweep past MacWeeney for 1-1.
Forbes was now coming into his own through the middle now that he was freed from the restraint of his right back duties – his great run was unconverted by Lee Chappell. At least the tempo was up and space was being found but once again inexplicable and schoolboyish errors were confounding the players and the onlookers. A couple of times Alan Massey and others were guilty of misplaced passes that allowed Town to regain possession in the danger areas. George Daly came on for an increasingly hesitant looking Ngoyi and showed some nice touches and link up play in the final 20 minutes or so. Dyer thought he had scored from a Forbes through ball but the Assistant’s flag for offside brought celebrations to an end as soon as they had started.
Late pressure from both sides made for entertainment but neither side looked like making the vital breakthrough as time ticked by. Man of the match Forbes chipped beautifully after Daly had won the ball but the truculent MacWeeney somehow clutched the ball. Then, with the game deep into added time, Town’s Tom Pett appeared to clearly foul E’Beyer but play was allowed to continue and the midfielder swept the ball past North for what seemed to be the final hammer blow and another sickening cup exit for Stones. With many of Stones reduced faithful heading for the car park, Fitzgerald played the ultimate get out of jail card and booked his enormously grateful side a replay at Potters Bar on Tuesday evening. To add to this late, late drama Towns Jake Parratt was sent off in the ensuing mêlée. Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett said after the game: ‘Today feels like a win but I was seething that their late goal was allowed and I made my opinions very clear to the referee at the end of the match’
Wealdstone: North, Forbes, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Dyer, Dean, O’Leary, Ngoyi, Fitzgerald, E’Beyer. Subs used: Lavers, Daly. N/u: Brooks, Cronin, Thomas (GK)
MoM: Kieron Forbes
|Wealdstone v Potters Bar Town|
|7||S on T||4|
|8||S off T||5|