St Albans City 1 – 0 Wealdstone
1 - 0
Both sides came into this hugely important bottom of the table clash on the back of heavy FA Cup First Round Cup defeats and needing to face up to the reality of the absolute requirement of gaining National League South points as the artificial comfort of Cup media hype rapidly evaporates.
Although Saints are currently in a more precarious position in the league than Stones, Wealdstone are in a far from comfortable status and despite their recent unbeaten run and games in hand this will mean nothing if a winning formula is not regained – and very quickly.
The home side won a scrappy encounter played out in driving rain at Clarence Park and the only goal came in the 25th minute when centre back Ben Martin was free to power a header past Jonathan North when his marker Tom Hamblin was forced off the pitch with a minor blood injury. Sadly his on pitch colleague failed to pick up the tall Martin and this ultimately proved the difference between the sides that both failed to sufficiently test respective goalkeepers over the 90 minutes. In fact North had not a single shot to save in anger and was a testament to Stones effective defence even without Skipper Wes Parker who tore his calf in the warm up, but the same could not be said of their attack and midfield.
After the match Wealdstone Manager Gordon Bartlett was far from a happy man and commented: ‘Circumstances went against us with Wes Parker a late withdrawal who injured his calf in the warm up and then we lost Corcs with a bad knee problem but the truth is we lacked the killer instinct throughout. Desire and character win games’
New midfield signing Matty Harriott who made such an impact at Ebbsfleet was not able to play as he had not recovered from the injury sustained in that against the odds victory in Kent, but there was good news in that Elliott Godfrey was back in the starting line up after his three match suspension.
Stones started the better and created some pressure; Jefferson Louis went on a decent run and strike that went wide and Bradley Hudson-Odoi should have done better when, having done all the hard work, shot straight at City keeper Joe Welch who closed down the angle at point blank range.
Stones attacked dissipated at Saints gained more midfield possession but both sides lacked creative nous when it mattered. It came as no surprise that the goal came from a set piece corner delivered by former Stone favourite Graeme Montgomery who had a quiet game.
Stones play in the second period was disappointing with far too many stray passes but least the final 20 minutes livened up with the introduction of Josh Hutchinson up front. The feeling is that if Hutchinson could find the net with a slice of luck then he would become prolific but the truth is that the chances came and went for the former Potters Bar striker and he somehow needs to find the clinical finish, but his energy and desire is there for all to see.
Stones following of over 200 fans in the 708 crowd tried their hardest to urge their side to at least an equaliser but it wasn’t to be and they trudged away as equally frustrated as the management team on a wet and miserable afternoon in Hertfordshire
Wealdstone will need to dig deep, very deep indeed, if they are to get a result on the plastic pitch at Maidstone United on Tuesday evening with a depleted side. It can be done of course but it will need nothing less than the required character and desire as the going, inevitably, gets tougher in an unforgiving and ruthless league.
Wealdstone: North, Duffy, Urquhart, Binns, Hamblin, Godfrey, Lucien, Corcoran, Louis, Davies, Hudson-Odoi, Lowe. Subs used: Lowe, Ball, Hutchinson. Not used: Wright