Wealdstone 7 – 0 Tring Athletic
7 - 0
How quickly fortunes change in football; Molten South Midlands side Tring Athletic arrived at the St George’s Stadium on Saturday unbeaten in all competitions and ready to face a Stones side supposedly low on confidence and ready for a tight and battling FA Cup encounter. This tie turned out to be a complete demolition job and although Stones are two levels higher up the pecking order and expected to win, they would not have expected to sweep the Hertfordshire side away with such ease. Stones could and should have reached double figures and squandered innumerable chances.
But this one-sided match was a personal triumph for Wealdstone’s summer signing Danny Burnell who came on as substitute for an injured Greg Ngoyi after 32 minutes. Within a minute of coming on he scored Stones second goal and went on to smash another three past Tring’s beleaguered keeper, Mike Underwood. A previously ‘goal dry’ Burnell now enters the Stones record books as only the 9th player to score 4 in a match since the club turned pro in 1971 and the first to achieve this feat as a substitute.
Tring made the commendable but perhaps naive mistake of trying to play football, rather than sticking to a typical cup-tie game plan of spoiling and counter attacking and they consequently left acres of space for the home side to constantly exploit.
Stones made one starting change for this cup-tie with Dean Smith coming in for the unavailable Lee Chappell; Wes Parker was Skipper for the day and fulfilled the role admirably.
Wealdstone took the game by the scruff of the neck and were ahead within minutes of the first whistle. Scott Fitzgerald charged down a clearance and from 25 yards out Greg Ngoyi sent a brilliant shot past Underwood.
It soon became evident that Stones had time and space to turn and play the ball in the midfield and initially seemed slow to fully exploit this unaccustomed luxury and overplayed their moves up the slope. The away side, stunned by the early goal, wasted what little possession they gained and increasingly allowed Stones to push forward with the pace of Kieron Forbes, Louis Lavers down the left flank and Ngoyi up front.
Tring’s top scorer Vinnie Iannone did manage to get a strike away on 17 minutes but was off target. It was almost too easy for Stones who seemed to enter the comfort zone at times; Ngoyi and Fitzgerald both had chances to increase the lead but their shots did not fully test Underwood.Ngoyi left the pitch with a thigh injury with 15 minutes to go before the break and was replaced by Danny Burnell and within a minute he had fortune on his side when his deflected shot deceived the unlucky Underwood; the build up though was the best of the entire match with a fluent 4 man ‘give and go’ passing move that oozed class and certainly deserved a decisive end product. Tring came back with a strong effort from defender Billy Osborne as the half ended with Stones disappointed with only a 2-0 lead to show for their dominance.
Stones looked as though they had been given a rocket during the interval and immediately poured forward down the slope. Burnell did brilliantly to score from an acute angle and a prone starting position within 5 minutes of the restart. Three minutes later it was 3-0 when Burnell found space and shot past Underwood and Athletics’ heads visibly dropped – somewhat surprising as they have gained a reputation for battling in their campaign to date. Danny Spendlove came on for Smith and this served to cause even more torment for the away side’s invisible defending. Tring missed an absolute sitter mid half when Osborne somehow shot wide when faced with an open goal to aim at. Burnell then netted again for his hat-trick after Peter Dean had set him up on a plate. 4-0. Fitzgerald went close and then embarrassingly shot wide of the far past when he had rounded Underwood with ease – a shocking miss for an experienced striker but he was to make up for this faux pas. Spendlove made a tremendous run through the middle and surged toward goal; Matt Myatt chopped the winger down and was promptly dismissed – Fitzgerald showed his team mates how to take a penalty and smashed the ball past Underwood for 5-0. Burnell then made it 6-0 at the near post with his 4th netting. The former Chesham marksman then turned provider for Fitzgerald who tapped in to complete the rout a few minutes before the final whistle.
Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett was a happier man than of late after the match: ‘We must use this as a platform for the rest of the season and we did what we had to do. At times we got into ‘this is too easy’ mode and we are certainly not going to get carried away with this result. At times we were sloppy but I am pleased with the result because we needed a lift after the Billericay performance’
The draw for the second qualifying round will take place on Monday (13 September) and Stones will be hoping for another home tie.
Wealdstone: North, Lavers, Smith, Parker, Massey, Brooks, Dean, O’Leary, Ngoyi, Fitzgerald, Forbes. Subs used: Burnell, Spendlove, E’Beyer. N/u: Cronin, Gerrard, Thomas (GK)
MoM: Danny Burnell