Wealdstone 2 – 0 AFC Hornchurch
2 - 0
Wealdstone proved conclusively on Monday night that brain will ultimately overcome brawn. Goals in each half from Scott McGleish and Tom Pett saw Stones gain revenge for the 6-1 FA Cup thrashing at the hands of the Urchins back in October.
This impressive victory owed much to Stones defensive prowess and all round gutsy commitment with the huge reward of closing the gap to only two points from leaders Maidstone and second place Dulwich with plenty of games in hand.
Wealdstone, unchanged from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Thamesmead, made a bright start with Scott McGleish firing over after 7 minutes play. From there the expected war of attrition developed with the home side intent on trying to impose their passing game on their one dimensional but powerful Essex visitors who pressed the ball aggressively at every opportunity. A slippery but perfectly playable surface caused both sides a few problems.
Stones, forced into a late kit colour change, went close on the half hour. Tom Pett burst into the box showing super quick feet, but lifted the shot slightly, leaving the ball at a good height for keeper Inigo Echepare to pull off a smart save. The rebound fell to the ever improving Luke Pigden who drove goalwards only to see his shot charged down.
Hornchurch launched a quick counter attack with Leigh Bremner releasing the dangerous Stefan Payne, but North charged out from goal to save brilliantly with his legs.
Stones persisted and made the breakthrough on 38 minutes. From a succession of corners, the third saw Godfrey’s delivery reach the far post where man of the match Tom Hamblin headed back across for McGleish to volley into the roof of the net. Pett nearly doubled the lead a minute later with a burst down the left and a low shot blocked by Echepare and the hosts settled for a one-goal advantage at the break.
The second half brought an early scare when Cronin committed a clumsy challenge on forward George Purcell and was promptly booked. Stones then went close from a goalmouth scramble, as they dropped deeper in defence of the single goal advantage.
The 685 crowd were now baying for a second and decisive goal and it almost arrived on 73 minutes when Pett was sent clear, but a crucial touch deflected the ball behind. Hamblin was up well from the resulting set-piece but the header lacked power allowing a defender to clear off the line. Glen Little entered the fray in place of Jonny Wright, playing in a more forward position to provide more creativity. Yet when Scott McCubbin was sent on in place of Michael Malcolm with 6 minutes remaining his impact was instant. Escaping down the right he pulled the ball back for Pett who in turn teed up Little. The big man seemed to have overrun the ball but won it back and fed Pett who curled his shot deliciously into the far corner to seal a great win.
This was another firm statement of intent from Wealdstone and ample revenge for that horrible Cup defeat but, equally, a triumph for a superior brand of football.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin ©, Godfrey, Malcolm, Pigden, McGleish, Wright, Pett. Subs used: Little, McCubbin. Other subs: Siva, Bailey,Bentley.
William Hill MoM: Tom Hamblin
By Nick DuGard
Steve Foster pics HERE