Wealdstone 3 – 0 Hastings United
3 - 0
A superb double strike from Peter Dean helped Wealdstone brush aside lowly Hastings United on Saturday as they strive to keep the pressure on first placed Whitehawk in the Ryman League title race.
Sean Cronin put Stones in front just past the half hour mark when he lashed home from the penalty spot after Tom Pett had been brought down in the box, before a great second half brace from Peter Dean made the points safe for the home side.
After an uneventful opening quarter of an hour on a heavy but perfectly playable pitch, Stones task was potentially made easier when Hastings ‘keeper Liam O’Brien went off injured on 17 minutes, and with no substitute stopper named on the bench midfielder Tom Vickers was forced to don the gloves but he acquitted himself well throughout.
The home side looked to test out the makeshift ‘keeper immediately; Scott McCubbin swung over a great cross which was headed goalwards by Chris Moore but Vickers was equal to his effort and clung onto the ball while diving at full stretch.
United registered their first effort on goal of the afternoon on 28 minutes when a quick break ended with Bradley Goldberg cutting inside and hitting a powerful effort which Rikki Banks did brilliantly well to parry away to safety.
The aerial threat of Moore was certainly causing problems for United, and he met a Lee Chappell free kick with a towering header which crashed off the top of the cross bar with Vickers flat footed.
Stones then took the lead on 34 minutes. Tom Pett burst into the box where he rounded Vickers who could only clip the heels of the winger, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot. With the crowd baying for a red card, the referee deemed a yellow to be sufficient punishment.
Sean Cronin stepped up to take the kick; lashing it confidently into the roof of the net to ensure his side took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Now playing down the slope, the home side almost doubled the lead five minutes after the restart when the increasingly influential Alex Dyer crossed to Cronin who flicked the ball to the far post where it was met by Moore, but his effort was cleared off the line by Jamie Crellin.
Crellin was involved at the other end two minutes later when he tried his luck with a 20 yard lofted shot which was tipped over the bar by the alert Banks.
With The Vale crowd of 523 now in an increasingly expectant mood, Stones started to rapidly move up the gears and turn the screw on Hastings.
A slick team move saw Wealdstone double their advantage on 58 minutes. Moore neatly flicked the ball into the path of Dyer on the right hand side with the former Northampton Town man picking out Peter Dean in the middle who swept the ball past Vickers first time.
Ten minutes later and it was 3-0. A long ball from Cronin at the back found Dean who exquisitely lofted it over the stranded Vickers to make sure of the points for his side.
Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett introduced new signing Leon Smith for his debut on 70 minutes, the striker having joined on a one month loan from rivals Wingate and Finchley.
Smith had a chance to make an early name for himself ten minutes from time getting on the end of a clever lay-off from Dean, however the stocky striker’s strike lacked power and didn’t trouble Vickers.
Next up for Wealdstone is the long trip to Leiston, Suffolk, on Tuesday night before they entertain nemesis side Lowestoft Town in a crunching clash at The Vale on Saturday 2 February.
Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker (c), Cronin, Dyer (Smith 70), Brooks, O’Leary (Brewer 82), Moore (Webb 78), Dean, Pett. Subs not used: Valchev, Hammond
Man of the match: Peter Dean
By Stuart Warren