Horsham 1 – 1 Wealdstone
1 - 1
A freak own goal from defender Sean Cronin summed up Wealdstone’s fortunes on Tuesday night as they were surprisingly held by the leagues bottom side Horsham.
The evening began in the worst possible sense when a flat tyre on the team coach delayed Stones arrival at the West Sussex club’s ground meaning they had little more than 15 minutes to warm up before the game. Already unable to field a full strength side and not helped by a terrible playing surface, in the end a draw was probably a fair result with Horsham showing some great battling qualities to hold off Stones and earn what was only their second home point of the season.
With the Stones late arrival, it was perhaps predictable that the home side would be the quickest out of the blocks with Tommy Murphy hitting a free kick into the outside of the net within the opening two minutes, before George Landais volleyed just wide from the edge of the box.
Stones were certainly making hard work of it in the opening quarter of an hour as the pacy Hornets frontline continually pressed them back, but without creating any real clear cut chances.
Kurtney Brooks then flashed a cross-shot just wide of the far post on 20 minutes as the visitors tried to get a foothold on proceedings.
Stones had a good chance five minutes later when a defensive slip allowed Peter Dean to thread a through ball to Richard Jolly, whose effort was saved by the outstretched foot of Horsham ‘keeper Michael Hunter.
Yinka Salami then had to be alert to block an effort from Connor Smith as the youngster burst into the box following a clever interchange with Brooks.
After what was looking like becoming an increasingly frustrating evening for Stones, they got the break they sought on 39 minutes. Richard Jolly sprinted down the left before sending over a low cross to Chris O’Leary. The two covering defenders could only half clear as O’Leary battled for possession, with the loose ball ending up at the feet of Peter Dean who was able to stab the ball home from close range. The relief was plain to see on the face of Dean as he celebrated his first league goal of what has been a difficult campaign for the popular striker.
The home side almost pulled one back right on the stroke of half time when Tommy Murphy burst down the right hand side before cutting inside and advancing into the box where he was able to get away a powerful left footed shot which crashed off the inside of the post. The danger wasn’t over yet for Stones though as the rebound fell kindly to the striker who was able to get another shot in which was headed off the line by Sean Cronin.
The second half began with Brooks threading a great through pass to Jolly but the talismanic striker was adjudged to have been marginally offside as he advanced towards goal.
The game still lacked any real quality from either side, and it was a freak own goal which brought the contest level in the 65th minute. David Hicks sliced the ball as he tried to clear on the edge of his own box, gifting possession to Salami who was able to drill it across the box. Cronin desperately tried to clear but unfortunately for him could only turn the ball past his own goalkeeper.
Immediately Gordon Bartlett opted to bring on Britt Assombalonga in the hope that the Watford forward could inject some flair into the Wealdstone attack.
Stones did have a chance from a set piece with 15 minutes left to play after Chris O’Leary was chopped down right on the edge of the box. Brooks took the kick, hitting a powerful effort which Hunter did well to palm away.
Horsham were now sitting deeper and deeper as they looked to hang on, and Stones felt aggrieved in the 84th minute when play was pulled back for what was an extremely debatable foul against sub Scott Fitzgerald as Jolly ran clear.
The remaining minutes saw Wealdstone lack penetration as they tried in vain to break down a resilient Horsham side. With a number of delays in the second half, not to mention four substitutions many in the crowd were expecting more than the limited two and a half minutes additional time which was played but this was a very frustrating night for Wealdstone
This Saturday Wealdstone continue their FA Trophy campaign with a massive home tie at The Vale against full-time Blue Square Premier side AFC Barrow in what is sure to be a highly entertaining contest, 3pm kick off.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond (Elms 79), Hicks, Massey (c), Cronin, Brooks, Smith, O’Leary, Dean, Jolly (Fitzgerald 79), Ahamed (Assombalonga 65). Subs not used: McCubbin, Poniskaitis
By Stuart Warren