Hastings United 1 – 1 Wealdstone
1 - 1
Wealdstone steadied the ship with a very creditable draw on Tuesday evening and pegged back a Hastings United side fresh from their glorious 3rd Round FA Cup exit at Championship side Middleborough at the weekend. Alex Dyer found the net early in the second half after Chris Moore’s penalty had been initially saved by the United keeper, the rebound being smashed in by the midfielder.
Bulgarian defender/midfielder Asen Valchev made his first team debut for Wealdstone, coming on as a late substitute.
Stones moved up a place in the Ryman Premier table with this hard fought point but it was their gritty performance under considerable pressure that will have pleased management and fans that made the long midweek trip to the South coast. Even so, the feeling at the end of this sometimes tetchy affair was that Stones had more than enough gilt edged chances to have taken all three points on offer as Richard Jolly, Alex Dyer and substitute Nathan Dyer all missed sitters in a strong second period.
Early exchanges were even but Stones were rocked back on 16minutes when from a United corner, defender Josh Jirbandey scored with a close range header. Stones hit back with several chances but were not able to make their increased possession count.
But eight minutes after the restart Stones were level after a foul on the recalled Chris O’Leary. U’s keeper Liam O’Brien got down well to push out Moore’s spot kick but Dyer reacted first to score, to much relief from his team mates.
The home side had a huge let- off seven minutes later when O’Brien’s attempted clearance hit Chris Moore and Jolly somehow blazed wide of an empty net. Hastings struck back and Bradley Goldberg got to a through ball before the onrushing Rikki Banks but he couldn’t direct his shot on target after being closed down.
Matters became heated after Stones substitute Tom Pett was involved in a heavy challenge and a melee ensued. Pett was booked for his pains and as were two U’s players involved in the brief fracas. Wealdstone thought they had taken the lead in added time when Dyer smacked a shot against the upright and then sub Nathan Webb passed the ball when shooting seemed the better option as last gasp opportunities also opened up for Kurtney Brooks and Peter Dean .
Stones are in action at home at The Vale on Saturday (12 January) when they entertain fellow play-off contenders Bognor Regis Town. Kick off 3pm.
Wealdstone: Banks, Hammond, Chappell, Tumwa, Cronin, Dyer, Dean, O’Leary, Moore, Jolly, Brooks. Subs used: Pett, Webb, Valchev. N/u: Haxia.
Attendance: 547 (Wealdstone: 35)