Wealdstone 0 – 1 Ashford Town
0 - 1
Within the space of four miserable days Wealdstone have contrived to exit the FA Cup at the first time of asking, and, on Tuesday evening, as holders, they relinquished the newly named Help for Heroes Charity Cup by losing to Ashford Town, also at the initial stage.
Fielding a much changed side, with eight changes from Saturday’s Cup debacle Stones management would have been hoping to see real competition for the upcoming Ryman Premier team sheet at AFC Hornchurch. Instead the 100 odd spectators at The Vale witnessed a serving similar to the weekend’s dismal fare – lots of huff and puff but lost possession all over the park and a distinct absence of shooting footwear and an end product.
Nevertheless the match began at breakneck speed with the Tangerines looking distinctly lively down the flanks and willing to close down the Stones with some aggression in the midfield. For the home side Nikki Ahamed, now fully recovered from his pre-season injury looked nimble and busy and he tried to create openings for the front pairing of Kieran Knight and Eddie Adjei.
Both sides had early chances that were squandered – Mark Bitmead for Town and Adjei both blazed over when well placed. Stones Man of the Match, keeper Sam Beagle made the first of several saves when he blocked at the feet of a Town forward who was completely free on goal. The tempo continued at a high pace as both sides chased around like the proverbial headless chicken.
Stones Chris O’Leary looked rusty following his long lay off but gradually worked himself into the game winning some high balls in the midfield, but, as in previous matches, possession was continually lost with overplaying and in an almost entirely ‘new’ side unfamiliarity and pattern of play was bound to be a challenge.
It was the away side that broke the deadlock on 43 minutes when Sean Cronin thought he had time to play the ball behind him but instead Bitmead stole in and was free to shoot past the exposed Beagle.
Stones did strike the crossbar early in the second half as Bitmead was desperately close to doubling Town’s tally, but when Knight volleyed against an upright it was déjà vu.
Wealdstone rung the changes bringing in James Hammond, Alan Massey and David Hicks but sadly it was to no avail. The old saying ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten’ was never truer for the men in blue these days and the feeling at least on the terraces is that it is change of some description that is required – and quickly – if the current malaise of predictability and Cup failure is not to spread to fragile league performances.
Wealdstone: Beagle, McCubbin, O’Regan, Cronin, Locke, Parsons, Ahamed, O’Leary, Knight, Adjei, Spendlove. Subs used; Hammond, Massey, Hicks