Wealdstone 2 – 0 Tooting & Mitcham United
2 - 0
Wealdstone got back to winning ways on Monday night when they overcame Tooting & Mitcham Utd 2-0 at a freezing cold Grosvenor Vale. After Saturday’s defeat at Lowestoft it was imperative that Stones won this clash with relegation threatened Tooting, and whilst they sealed the points they made hard work of it, particularly during a tense second half.
Leading scorer Richard Jolly returned to the starting line up after being rested at the weekend was in the thick of the action right from the start and with just one minute on the clock Scott McCubbin played a clever through ball to the striker, however his touch was uncharacteristically heavy and he was unable to get a shot away.
Strike partner Scott Fitzgerald then hit an audacious 40 yard volley two minutes later with Tooting ‘keeper Jack Giddens off his line, however it sailed just wide. A swift passing move saw Lee Chappell presented with a shooting opportunity on the ten minute mark, with the full back hitting a powerful effort across the face of goal from an acute angle.
The best chance of the contest so far fell to Stones in the 15th minute; Sean Cronin connected with a powerful header from a McCubbin corner, which Giddens could only palm away. In the scramble that ensued Jolly tried to bundle the ball home from close range, however a combination of goalkeeper and defender saw the ball somehow cleared.
Britt Assombalonga was next to go close, hitting a shot straight at Giddens after a clever pull back from Jolly. The chances were now stacking up for Stones, and Jolly was put clear again by a great ball from the busy Connor Smith. Jolly managed to dink the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper, however it rolled agonisingly wide of the post.
Only some superb defending from James Hammond then denied the visitors from taking the lead in the 27th minute, with the former Colchester defender bravely blocking a point blank range effort from Charlie Stimson and turning the ball away for a corner. From the resultant corner the ball flew to the far post to Steve Ferguson who inexplicably volleyed wide when unmarked and the warning signs were clearly in evidence for a nervy looking Stones.
But Ferguson’s miss proved costly as Stones finally took the lead two minutes later. McCubbin sent over a cross from the right which was flicked on by Fitzgerald to Jolly who met the ball with a powerful header that Giddens could only push onto the bar. The rebound fell kindly to Assombalonga who had the simple task of stroking the ball home from close range.
Tooting defender Ronnie Fletcher came close to levelling the game on the stroke of half time, sending a flicked header towards the top corner which Jonathan North had to palm round the post. Just as he had done at the start of the first half, Jolly found himself through on goal again at the start of the second, this time dragging his shot wide of the far post from a great ball from Smith.
Sloppy defensive play then nearly gifted Tooting an equaliser on 52 minutes, when possession was lost in the middle of the park and Connor French was allowed to run clear, however he was thwarted by a smart save from North.
Stones inexplicably handed Tooting another chance too minutes later, this time Cronin’s dithering on the ball allowed French to win the ball. Although Dominic Sterling managed to get a tackle in, the loose ball fell to Jamie England who drilled a shot just wide.
Wealdstone were struggling to stamp their authority on the game and looked increasingly nervous at defending their precious lead and the crowd were becoming increasingly frustrated with their failure to make the game safe. Assombalonga did have a chance for a second with 15 minutes left to play, hitting a powerful effort across the face of goal which flew wide of the far post after a McCubbin corner.
Stones then had what looked like a clear penalty shout turned down on 80 minutes; Fitzgerald burst into the box and knocked the ball past Giddens, with the Tooting ‘keeper seemingly bringing him down, however the referee amazingly waved play on to the total bemusement of the former Watford striker.
It was in injury time that the home side finally made sure of the points, with Richard Jolly showing great strength to hold off a defender before side footing past Giddens and netting his 29th goal of the current campaign.
Wealdstone can now look forward to Saturday’s huge FA Trophy tie at in form Conference South side Dartford.
Man of the match: Scott McCubbin
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Chappell (c), Sterling, Cronin, Smith, McCubbin (Brooks 80), O’Leary, Fitzgerald (Dean 87), Jolly, Assombalonga. Subs not used: Hicks, Pett, Poniskaitis
By Stuart Warren