Met Police 0 – 1 Wealdstone
0 - 1
Wealdstone produced a gutsy and hard working all round team performance on Saturday with a strike from Tom Pett seeing them deservedly grab another vital three points against a physical and in form Met Police side.
The win sees Wealdstone further consolidate their position in second place in the Ryman League table, seven points behind big spending leaders Whitehawk with two games in hand, ahead of the sides’ potentially explosive encounter next Saturday at East Brighton Park.
Stones more than matched their opponent’s physical and direct style throughout, and they were rewarded in the 51st minute when midfielder Tom Pett fired home the only goal of the game from inside the box after some great work by Lee Chappell down the left.
Manager Gordon Bartlett was afforded the luxury of naming the same starting XI which had performed so well in Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory at East Thurrock United as Stones looked to extend their impressive recent unbeaten run.
The opening minutes were a lively encounter, with Chappell finding space down the left in the first minute before firing over a cross which Gary MacDonald had to clear behind for a corner.
Only a great stop from Rikki Banks then prevented the home side taking the lead on three minutes as the Wealdstone ‘keeper palmed away a 20 yard effort from Sam Clayton which looked destined for the top corner.
A swift passing move on 9 minutes resulted in an opening for the visitors as Richard Jolly and Peter Dean combined well to release Pett who fired agonisingly wide across the face of goal from an acute angle.
After the bright opening 10 minutes, the pace of the game subsided somewhat as the encounter became scrappier.
Wealdstone were more than holding their own against their opponents though, with Chris O’Leary and Kurtney Brooks particularly dominant in the midfield areas.
Met Police were perhaps lucky to avoid being reduced to ten men on the half hour mark, with Howard Newton appearing to catch Tom Pett in the face with an elbow which referee Mr Serrano was guilty of missing, much to the annoyance of the 165 visiting fans.
The incident appeared to fire Stones up even more, and with the noise volume from the travelling fans increasing they ratcheted up the tempo in an attempt to take the lead before half time.
Police goalkeeper Jamie Butler failed to deal with a high delivery into the box from Chappell ten minutes before the break, fumbling the ball into the path of Wes Parker who took a touch before hitting an effort which was cleared off the line by MacDonald.
Stones came even closer to snatching the lead in the last minute of the half, with another brilliant left wing cross from the ever lively Chappell finding Dean whose header from six yards was somehow beaten away by Butler.
The visitors grabbed the lead six minutes after the restart with a great passing move. Dean did well to bring the ball down and thread it through to Chappell down the left hand side. Chappell managed to keep the ball in and deliver a superb driven cross into the box but finding himself on the end of a late and robust challenge from Steve Noakes in the process. The referee played the advantage though and the ball found Tom Pett who took a touch before slamming the ball home for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Met Police tried to find a way back into the game by firing a succession of high balls into the Wealdstone box, but these were dealt with by a resolute Stones rearguard as they failed to create any clear cut openings.
Pett had a chance to add a second on 69 minutes, getting on the end of a classy back-heel from the skilful Dean but he could only fire over from the edge of the box.
A mistake from Steve Sutherland then gifted Pett another opportunity with ten minutes left to play, as he was caught in possession giving the Stones winger a chance to cross, however his low ball into the box just evaded on the onrushing Jolly.
The final ten minutes saw the home side throw everything at Stones as they continually pumped the ball into the final third, but the visitors stood up to the test well and repelled everything that was thrown at them with Parker, Alaile and Cronin outstanding
The best chance for the Met came in the final minute of normal time when Noakes was picked out by a cross from Newton, but he could only head straight at Banks when well positioned.
Next up for Wealdstone is the top of the table clash away at table toppers Whitehawk next Saturday, 3pm kick off .
Wealdstone: Banks, Alaile, Chappell, Parker (c), Cronin, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Dean (Moore 83), Jolly, Pett. Subs not used: Webb, James, McCubbin, Godfrey.
Man of the match: Kurtney Brooks
Attendance: 275 (Wealdstone: 165)
By Stuart Warren