Met Police 1 – 2 Wealdstone
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Wealdstone dug deep on Saturday against a very competent Met Police side to come from behind and secure another vital three points in the relentless battle for a playoff spot.
Having fallen behind to a wonder strike from Police’s Sam Hurrell, goals from Alex Dyer and, inevitably, Richard Jolly saw Stones snatch the win which means they remain one point behind fifth placed Lewes who also won but with a game in hand and a far superior goal difference. They now make the long trip to Margate on Tuesday knowing that a victory will lift them to fourth place in the table going into the last game of the season against Concord Rangers next Saturday.
Stones were once again backed by a superb away following, many of whom who had taken advantage of the free coach travel laid on by the club, and they had the better of the early chances. Richard Jolly fired over when well placed following a good through ball by Kurtney Brooks before The Blues ‘keeper Jamie Butler just beat Peter Dean to the ball following a low cross from Jolly.
Tempers flared on the twenty minute mark when Tyron Smith put in a nasty looking lunge on Tom Pett with both sets of players racing in to confront each other. Once the melee had quietened down Smith somehow escaped punishment for the challenge.
The home side were then ahead just before the half hour mark. Smith swung over a free kick from the left hand side which was only cleared as far as Sam Hurrell 25 yards from goal. The Wealdstone defence failed to close him down and he was able to take a touch before drilling an unstoppable shot into the corner which gave Stones ‘keeper Ashlee Jones no chance.
Hurrell tried his luck from distance again five minutes later, this time hitting a powerful effort from 20 yards which Jones did well to hold onto.
Stones dug in and levelled the match on 35 minutes. Pett played a neat one two with Alex Dyer and the former Northampton midfielder beat two men all ends up before hitting an effort from the edge of the box which took a deflection off a Police defender; with Butler wrong footed the ball ran into the bottom corner much to the delight of the 250 strong Stones contingent.
Both sides had chances to take the lead in the closing stages of the half, with Jones doing well to block an effort from Stafforde Palmer before Butler did well to palm away an effort from Pett.
Ten minutes after the restart a piece of route one football saw Stones take the lead. Jones punted the ball up field with James Tyrell swinging a boot at the ball and missing it which allowed the tracking Jolly to run through on goal. When one on one with the ‘keeper Jolly usually comes out on top, and he made no mistake this time as he coolly slotted past Butler for his 47th goal of the season.
Police pressed hard for an equaliser and Jones twice had to be alert to keep out long range efforts from Smith.
On 62 minutes Craig Brown had a good chance to level the match when a deep cross from the left hand side found him just inside the box. He had time to take a touch before firing just the wrong side of the post.
Substitute Chris Bourne tried an ambitious effort from distance on 64 minutes with his wicked dipping effort flying just over the bar.
The final twenty minutes saw the home side enjoy plenty of possession in a tense finish for Wealdstone. Despite the superior ball retention of The Blues, the visitors were defending superbly well, with ‘keeper Jones showing great command of his area and the central defensive partnership of Wes Parker and Sean Cronin keeping chances to a minimum.
The final whistle was greeted by a huge roar from the Wealdstone fans as they celebrated their side’s third win on the bounce, knowing full well that the playoff dream is still very much in their team’s hands.
Wealdstone: Jones, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker, Cronin, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Dean (Fitzgerald 63), Jolly (Mulley 90), Pett (Smith 86). Subs not used: Hoban, Massey.