Eastbourne Borough 1-1 Wealdstone
1 - 1
It is perhaps a measure of Wealdstone’s continuing progress and expectations in their inaugural season within the tough and unforgiving surroundings of the Vanarama Conference South that they come away from such matches with the feeling that a single away point is a huge disappointment.
As ever, and based on the excellent performance of Eastbourne Borough at The Vale in the league opener back in August, most would have accepted a point prior to kick-off, but circumstances dictated otherwise.
Stones impressive unbeaten league run extended to ten games after Saturdays clash at the tidy Priory Lane ground ,but everyone present will know that the away side should have collected a nailed on three points and even after that gut wrenching late leveller. Wealdstone largely dominated proceedings throughout and only in the second period eased the pressure off a frustrated home side that lacked ambition and allowed Boro to come onto them for extended periods. The vibrant away side took an early lead through Matt Ball and looked comfortable until the old but now largely banished problem of conceding late on, came back to haunt them. Stones keeper Jon North hardly had a save to make all afternoon and it was doubly infuriating that he had to pick the ball out of the net as the game entered added time.
Stones narrow midfield of five with Matt Ball and the newly signed Micky Corcoran playing centrally worked extremely well showing the required bite and tenaciousness lacking in recent displays that had sometimes allowed them to be overrun. Jefferson Louis started as the lone front man and did well holding the ball up in the first half but the hugely experienced former Hendon striker faded in the second as lack of games inevitably caught up with him. Louis had demanded a start and without playing time he will find it difficult to achieve the tempo and sharpness his needs to find the net.
On a decent pitch in current weather conditions Stones made all the early running with the midfield taking control allowing Johnny Wright and Luke O’Nien to get forward and cause problems. And it was great incisive play by Wright that created the breakthrough on 11 minutes. He slipped the ball through to Matt Ball and with the Borough defence split wide open clipped his precise strike past Lewis Carey.
Wealdstone continued to press the ball well and force Borough into mistakes and the home side seemed content to continually play square passes that allowed Stones to defend in numbers.
There was a scare on 26 minutes when North mis kicked but Wes Parker came to the rescue with a great clearing tackle. Jonny Wright was then well placed to clear off the line.
The home side had a spell of pressure of the half hour mark but failed to make any real impression in front of goal. Their best chance of the half fell to Gavin McCallum but he blazed over when well placed. The away side should have doubled their lead before the break but Louis’s turn and strike was just off target.
Stones started the second half almost as well as the first and if Louis had read Ball’s excellent through ball they could have grabbed another early goal.
Stones were finding it increasingly difficult to hold the ball up as Louis inevitably tired ploughing his loan furrow but the home side still were finding it difficult to break down a resilient Stones defensive wall. Stones could have made more of several corners but their delivery was poor and they began to come under sustained pressure as they dropped back. Scott McGleish replaced Louis with 15 minutes to go and with speedy West Ham loanee Nathan Manvila also on as substitute they started to exploit space as Eastbourne pushed up.
But disaster struck on 90 minutes when Sean Cronin for once got caught out on the bye-line allowing a cross to the far post which substitute Richard Pacquette headed in with North in no real position to save.
Remarkably this set back gave Wealdstone renewed impetus to win back the lead and they had two golden opportunities to grab all three points in the final 2 minutes of added time. Firstly Matt Ball faced with virtually an open goal contrived to smash the ball against the post and then in the final seconds from a corner, an unmarked Corcoran headed wide.
Wealdstone: North, Martin, Watts, Parker, Cronin, Godfrey, Wright, Corcoran, Louis, Ball, O’Nien. Subs used: McGleish, Manvila, Not used: Jolly, Hammond, Hamblin
Steve Foster pics HERE