Lewes 0 – 3 Wealdstone
0 - 3
Wealdstone, awaiting their first victory at the Dripping Pan for 20 years, might have approached this game with caution. However, it was clear from the outset that they had other ideas to make their Championship intentions clear. Goals from Tom Pett, Luke Pigden and a wonder-strike from Scott McGleish saw the Stones take the 3 points and extend their lead at the top of the Ryman Premier League to 10 points.
The visitors, making one change from the weekend victory at Leiston, McCluskey replacing the injured Bentley, started spectacularly. A free-flowing move, from defence to attack, ended with an overhead kick from McGleish passing just over the crossbar. The travelling fans, numbering 120 in a crowd of 356 lifted the atmosphere immediately.
After quarter of an hour, Stones pressure started to tell. An effort from McGleish was parried by former Stones keeper, Banks. The rebound fell to Pigden whose shot hit the bar and bounced down onto the line before being cleared to safety. Two minutes later, a beautiful through ball from McGleish dissected the Lewes defence. Pett, with work still to do, finished with aplomb, low into the corner to give Stones the lead. Wealdstone pressed hard, attempting to force their advantage. Penny, on loan from Millwall, started to show his potential. A sublime ball to McCluskey ended with a shot just over. The home team’s frustration increased as the game turned more physical. An elbow on Pett was punished by a yellow card, to the surprise of the crowd who expected to see red.
Midway through the half, McGleish was through again although this time Banks was quickly off his line. As half-time approached, Lewes finally got into the game, although successive corners were easily dealt with by the impressive Stones’ defence.
HT: Lewes 1 – 0 Wealdstone (Pett)
The half-time pep talk appeared to rally The Rooks, with pressure being applied from the re-start. Possession shifted towards the home side, and Stones’ Championship credentials were being tested. However, the Wealdstone midfield, marshalled by the imperious Elliot Godfrey, continued to weather the storm in a fashion that has become the feature of Stones title challenge. A succession of half-chances gave The Rooks hope of overcoming the slender lead. Lewes appeared to have finally clawed their way back into the match, with their best chance after 68 minutes. A collective sigh of relief emitted from the travelling fans as a lofted ball produced a header which passed narrowly wide.
That only seemed to act as wake-up call for Stones. The impressive Pigden gave Wealdstone some breathing space with a shot slotted home at the near post, with some assistance from the shin of the unfortunate Banks. Confidence spread throughout the side. The passes flowed and the travelling fans purred. Minutes later, the victory was sealed with a moment to cherish. The experienced McGleish has scored countless goals for his 13 clubs over a 20-year career, yet none could have been sweeter. 35 yards out on the right, with one touch, his shot curled into the top corner. Stunning.
As time ran out on the game, the carnival atmosphere increased, helped by results from elsewhere shifting in Stones’ favour. A thoroughly professional performance from Wealdstone, with the superb defence securing their fifth straight clean sheet, who move 10 points clear with 3 games in hand.
All eyes now look toward a 1st v 2nd clash on Saturday when Dulwich Hamlet visit The Vale.
Team: North, Hammond, Okimo, Parker, Cronin, Godfrey, McCluskey (McGubbin), Pigden, McGleish (Putman), Penny (Siva), Pett. Unused subs: Malcolm, Hamblin
Report by Neil rands
Steve Foster pics HERE