East Thurrock United 3 – 3 Wealdstone
3 - 3
Despite an exciting and incident packed finale to this match when Wealdstone showed commendable spirit and fight to pull back from a 1-3 deficit and a seemingly lost cause, this was, nonetheless, an inexplicably disappointing and stuttering performance in deepest Essex on Saturday.
Once again, changes made to the side at the start of the second half were significant with Alex Dyer finally making his return following injury and it was his goal, a superb 20 yarder, late in the second half that provided the vital spark for Stones to
grab an unlikely point in the dying minutes from a Richard Jolly penalty.
The outcome of this roller coaster of a match could have been entirely different had Kurtney Brooks point blank strike not been brilliantly parried away by United’s Goal Keeper, Richard Wray with the scores delicately balanced at 1-1 with Wealdstone on top early in the second period. From Wray’s excellent stop the Rocks countered, raced to the other end and scored, changing the face of the game.
Stones started with the same line-up that had performed so well against Carshalton during the week and expectations were high that they would build on that good display. Brooks netted early on for the away side but Jolly was called back for offside, but it
was soon evident that Stones were looking sluggish and strangely lacking the tempo to match the Rocks more urgent and incisive play, particularly in the key midfield areas.
Nevertheless the hard working Peter Dean missed a great chance after David Hicks had struck wildly over. But United took the lead following lost possession by Stones in the midfield – a problem all afternoon – and slack defending allowed Neil Richmond
to get free and shoot past Jonathan North on 20 minutes. Stones were hardly out of 1st gear.
Wealdstone couldn’t shake off their surprising, inexplicable lethargy and frustrating hesitation in most departments. Poor decision making continued to be an unwanted feature of a torrid first period – culminating in skipper Lee Chappell being caught in
possession just outside his own box – fortunately the Rocks failed to capitalise. Some relief was provided when an on target Jolly header was only just deflected over Wray’s goal.
But the half couldn’t end quickly enough for Stones who were lucky with only a single goal deficit to nurse when a United forward somehow managed to lift the ball wide with only North to beat in the closing stages.
As anticipated, Stones Manager, Gordon Bartlett, made changes at the start of the second period bringing on Alex Dyer for Tom O’Regan and Wes Parker for Alan Massey, who had taken a knock in a collision.
Dyer made an immediate and impressive impact with some clever and effective passing and Wealdstone’s tempo perked up – no doubt abetted by the interval’s hairdryer treatment. It was Dyer that hit past the post from Jolly, and then within a minute Stones had equalised.
On 50 minutes, and after another attack, Dyer’s shot was blocked but this time Richard Jolly used his pace and killer instinct to squeeze the ball past Wray for 1-1.
Suddenly Stones found the impetus and self belief that had been lacking for the previous 45 minutes and piled forward. But when Brooks sure-fire effort was somehow breathtakingly blocked on the line by Wray it all went pear shaped again. From a position of apparent control and ascendancy Stones were just as quickly rocked by conceding a second goal within a few minutes of pulling level, Kye Ruel netting after some awful defending through the middle.
As heavy rain descended from the dark Essex sky Scott McCubbin made his debut following his return from the World University games and replaced Jake Parsons who had struggled to affect the game.
The play was now open and end to end and after Jolly had shot wide from a great Peter Dean turn, it was the Rocks that turned the screws. Another slip allowed the home side a clear run on North’s totally exposed goal and Neil Richmond scored his second with ease for what appeared to be an unassailable lead.
Stones would not be expected to capitulate and they didn’t. With 12 minutes to go Wes Parker went on a forward run and when the ball was fed into the path of Dyer he lashed a powerful shot past the despairing Wray to provide renewed hopes of salvaging something from the game.
With the their tails back up Wealdstone went in search of an equaliser and with just minutes remaining Alex Dyer was gain in the thick of the action. He burst into the box but was brought down; Referee Elliott Kaye had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Jolly confidently despatched the penalty to draw his side level – Reiss Gilbey was sent off for felling Dyer but despite the extra man Stones ran out of possession and then time.
Wealdstone will know that they are capable of far better and will look to gain their first win of the season against Wingate and Finchley at The Vale on Bank Holiday Monday, kick –off 3pm
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Chappell, Cronin, Massey, Brooks, Parsons, Hicks, Dean, Jolly, O’Regan. Subs used: Dyer, Parker, McCubbin. N/u: Spendlove, Knight.