Wealdstone 2 – 1 Concord Rangers
2 - 1
Two hugely dramatic late goals saw Wealdstone come from behind to secure the most unlikely of victories against ten man Concord Rangers to fully maintain their Ryman League title challenge.
On a memorable night of tempestuousness, incident and high drama at The Vale, it appeared all but inevitable that Wealdstone were heading for a disastrous defeat against a Concord side that had been down to ten men following the controversial first half dismissal of Leon McKenzie.
Despite the sending off, Rangers were undoubtedly the best side for most of the evening and took a deserved lead in the 70th minute through James White.
But just when it looked like Stones were going to taste a gut wrenching defeat at home in the league for only the third time this season, Esmond James smashed home the equaliser with two minutes left to play before Tom Pett dramatically snatched the unlikeliest of victories with a brilliantly cool finish in the third minute of injury time, sparking scenes of wild celebration amongst the home fans in the 610 crowd.
There was just the one change from the side which had performed so well in the victory over Margate two days before, with Scott McCubbin coming in at right back in place of James Hammond who was on the bench.
The first chance of the evening came for Wealdstone with four minutes on the clock as they looked to carry on where they’d left off on Tuesday. Lee Chappell embarked on a trademark surging run down the left before picking out Scott McGleish in the box whose shot on the turn was blocked by Nicky Cowley.
Concord then had a glorious chance at the other end three minutes later. Darren Locke’s clumsy challenge on the corner of the box resulted in a free kick for the visitors, with Tony Stokes’s delivery finding John Easterford who hit a powerful effort off the post. The danger wasn’t over yet though, and Leon McKenzie followed up with another vicious effort which was heroically headed off the line by Chappell.
James White and Ben Greenhalgh then tried their luck with efforts from just outside the box, with both players firing within inches of the right hand post with Jonathan North struggling to get across.
The visitors were then reduced to ten men in controversial circumstances on 24 minutes, with Leon McKenzie red carded for an alleged head butt on Sean Cronin.
Following the sending off Rangers adapted well and were beginning to frustrate Wealdstone as they struggled to play their usual quick passing game baulked by the organisation and high work rate of the opposition.
Stones had their best chance of the evening so far four minutes before the break when Scott McCubbin picked out Peter Dean in the box who flashed a header just wide from six yards when he should have scored.
The second half almost got off to the worst possible start for Stones when on 47 minutes a long throw into the box was headed goalwards by White, with North diving at full stretch to palm the ball away.
Greenhalgh then had a great chance five minutes later, picking up the ball on the corner of the box before cutting inside and hitting a swerving effort which North did fantastically well to parry away.
North excelled again one minute later when another dangerous free kick into the box was headed goalwards by Matthew Fry, but the former Watford man was equal to his effort as he tipped it over the bar.
It looked like a goal had been coming for the visitors and it duly arrived on 70 minutes. Greenhalgh played a high ball into the box from a free kick with White meeting it with a looping header which went over North and into the net.
Stones were struggling to create any real chances on what was turning out be an increasingly frustrating night for them against a very impressive and physically powerful Concord side.
Scott McGleish had a chance with ten minutes left on the clock, hitting a shot on the turn from Scott McCubbin’s pullback which was deflected wide.
From the resultant corner the ball was half cleared as far as Dyer, but he could only curl his shot wide of the post.
The dramatic equaliser came on 88 minutes. Chappell showed his usual superb work rate as he tirelessly chased a lost cause and won a corner. He swung the resultant set piece into the area which flew over everyone and found Esmond James on the far corner of the box. James then showed great composure to rifle the ball home much to the delight of players and fans alike.
The remaining minutes were a frenetic affair as Stones desperately tried to snatch the unlikeliest of victories as Concord became increasingly pressurised and rattled.
And the unthinkable happened in the third minute of stoppage time as Stones won it. McCubbin threaded a great through ball to Pett who chested the ball with wonderful control before lofting it over Concord ‘keeper Dale Brighty to send the home fans into delirium.
So a memorable night for Wealdstone who can now look forward to a just as important trip to Wingate and Finchley on Saturday before Easter Monday’s much anticipated local derby with Harrow Borough at The Vale, 3pm kick off.
Wealdstone: North, McCubbin, Chappell (c), Locke (Godfrey 71), Cronin, Dyer, Webb (James 57), Brooks (Hammond 60), McGleish, Dean, Pett. Subs not used: Jolly, Banks
Man of the match: Lee Chappell
By Stuart Warren