Basingstoke Town 1- 1 Wealdstone
1 - 1
This match was billed as a must win game for struggling Wealdstone who were pitted against Vanarama National League South basement side Basingstoke Town on Saturday. In the event both Managers were left frustrated with less than satisfactory performances and a stalemated point was no more than each side deserved.
After the game Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett vented his anger and frustration at his players display: ‘I want to express publically how bitterly disappointed I am at what we saw this afternoon. The players have let themselves down and let our supporters down. That performance was completely unacceptable and I have left the players in no doubt about how I feel. We have to improve – and fast, they are capable of so much more than this’
Stones had to again make changes as Ryan Watts has sustained a foot injury that will need some weeks to heal and in came Dale Binns in the left back position. Nineteen year old Matt Lowe was brought in on a month’s loan from League Two outfit Cambridge on Friday, but Murphy’s Law dictated that the young player was held up in traffic travelling to Hampshire and was named on the bench instead of the starting line-up. When the midfielder eventually came on at the start of the second period he looked lively and added much needed zest to his lacklustre colleagues.
As for the details of the match, Stones started brightly but lacked control in the final third, typified by a couple of excellent chances that were spurned by an out of sorts Jefferson Louis.
Scott Davies spectacular 30 yard strike clipped the cross bar – sadly only one of two pieces of significant play from the former Reading man throughout the match.
But on 13 minutes Stones had a stroke of luck; Josh Hutchinson made a hash of a volley but The Dragons couldn’t clear their lines. Matt Ball had time and space to shoot past Aaron Howe courtesy of a wicked deflection off David Ray.
But Stones failed to capitalise on their lead which began to look increasingly precarious as the home side finally began to move the ball around across the width of the park
Town equalised on the half hour mark. Stones didn’t clear and Harrison Gilkes stole in to poke the ball past an exposed Jon North.
Stones fell back into their shells somewhat and experienced striker Manny Williams shot just wide a couple of minutes later.
Controversial decisions from Referee Adam Ricketts bordered on or beyond the bizarre and this did nothing to contribute to the games entertainment value. A Dragons player clearly pushed the hapless official in a moment of high drama but inexplicably got away without so much of a ticking off.
Sadly the second period produced little to provide encouragement to both camps and real goal scoring opportunities were at a premium. Stones best chance to take the lead came when Josh Urquhart had two bites at the cherry when in front of goal but Howe saved his initial header and the weaker follow up strike.
Wealdstone had more possession in spells but a strange lethargy seems to have dampened creativity and the spark needed to find the net. Despite an unbeaten run of four matches, things need to improve or further changes will be inevitable as we now approach the exceedingly choppy waters of Cup football
Wealdstone: North, Urquhart, Binns, Parker, Hamblin, Godfrey, Hutchinson, Ball, Louis, Davies, Hudson–Odoi. Subs used: Corcoran, Calcutt, Lowe. Not used: Lucien, Wright
By Nick DuGard