Wealdstone 1 v 1 Folkestone Invicta
1 - 1
It was a disappointing afternoon for Wealdstone on Saturday as they were held at home to relegation threatened Folkestone Invicta. It was an all round poor performance from Stones, who struggled to find their rhythm, and looked a world away from the side which has been doing so well in recent weeks. They now face a massive game next week against 3rd placed Tonbridge and will need to dust themselves down and look to regain their footballing prowess of recent weeks. Despite the poor performance, Stones were not helped by a significantly indifferent refereeing performance which included some baffling decisions, most notably a controversial missed push on Alan Massey in the run up to the Folkestone goal.
Stones were able to welcome back Watford loanee Gavin Massey to the side following injury, and he nearly got his side off to a great start on 4 minutes when Kurtney Brooks threaded a great through ball to the striker who beat the offside trap and tried to round Jack Delo in the Folkestone goal, however the ‘keeper did well, collecting the ball at his feet. This match again showed how much of a sharp learning curve young Massey has to deal with Ryman defenders.
After the early chance for the home side, the game then became very scrappy with neither side creating any real chances, until on 29 minutes, when Simon Austin hit a powerful volley on the turn from just outside the box which forced Jonathan North to make a smart save to his left hand side.
This seemed to act as a wakeup call for Stones, and they took the lead in bizarre circumstances one minute later. Peter Dean took a pot shot from outside the box which Delo completely misjudged and the ball ended up finding its way into the bottom corner, much to the bemusement of the Folkestone stopper.
The goal appeared to give a massive lift to the side, and Massey came close for the second time of the afternoon, using his pace to again beat the offside trap and round the ‘keeper, however he was beaten to the ball by Liam Friend as he tried to roll the ball into the empty net.
The game then took a controversial turn two minutes before half time. Kurtney Brooks reacted angrily to a nasty challenge on him from Darren Smith which resulted in players from both sides rushing in. After a long consultation with both linesmen, the referee bizarrely just booked Alan Massey and Sean Cronin.
Wealdstone nearly begun the second half in the worst possible fashion, when Nikki Ahamed under hit a back pass which was intercepted by James Dryden, but luckily for Wealdstone he could only fire hurriedly wide.
Stones made their first change of the match on 61 minutes with Gavin Massey being replaced by Callum Martin, and Martin was in the think of the action straight away, latching onto a ball from Alex Dyer and finding himself bearing down on goal, however he was denied by a last ditch challenge from Liam Friend.
Martin then showed why he is so highly rated ten minutes later, showing great skill to beat two defenders, and then curling a left footed effort onto the crossbar from 20 yards.
Stones then had another chance to extend the lead two minutes later when Sean Cronin played a delightful volleyed pass down the left flank to Lee Chappell whose chipped effort bounced just wide, when a shot would probably have brought a goal.
The game was now becoming end to end, and North did brilliantly to rush out and save at the feet of Frankie Chappell, before a counter attack for Stones resulted in Dean’s close range effort being saved by Delo.
Folkestone were level with just eight minutes to play though, when Simon Austin scored with a superb volley from an acute angle which left North with no chance. Despite the fact it was a sublime shot, it appeared that Alan Massey was pushed to the ground during the build up, and in the aftermath of the goal things got even worse for Stones when Lee Chappell was given his marching orders, firstly receiving a yellow for pointing out the push, and then receiving a second almost instantly for apparently applauding the referee’s decision.
Despite being down to ten men, Wealdstone looked to respond instantly, with Brooks’ clever ball finding Spendlove whose driven effort flew just wide of the far post. Joe Benjamin was then introduced for the final few minutes in the hope that the striker would be able to make a name for himself, however it wasn’t to be and Stones could not find a way past the Folkestone backline.
Wealdstone: North, Ahamed, A. Massey, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Spendlove (Benjamin 86), Brooks, G. Massey (Martin 61), Dean, Chappell (c). Subs not used: Conteh, Duncan, Thomas.
Man of the Match: Alex Dyer
By Stuart Warren