St Albans City 1 – 3 Wealdstone
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Wealdstone moved up to the heady heights of eleventh position in the Vanarama Conference South with a hard fought win over St Albans City on Saturday and must now be free of any further glances over their shoulders at a rapidly disappearing drop zone.
A superb all round performance from much travelled striker Jefferson Louis who scored two and made the third and killer goal for Scott Davies, sealed a satisfying victory. Louis has taken his time to win over the demanding Stones fans but the former Hendon front man is now proving his worth with pace, power, effective hold up play and has now shown the ability to score from any distance.
But the win was not all about Louis with the whole squad playing their part and doing the ugly stuff when needed – perhaps the difference between the struggles of early season performances and the huge improvement since the end of last year.
Stones Manager Gordon Bartlett had to bring in a replacement keeper for this game with regular Jon North unavailable and in stepped former Dunstable and Southend stopper Luke Chambers. Chambers put in an excellent shift and probably ran Louis close for man of the match pulling off four excellent saves at crucial times in a sometimes tense contest that kept the 877 crowd on its toes.
Stones rocked the Saints when they took a shock lead after only two minutes play. From a corner on the right the ball eventually found Louis in space some 20 yards from goal. The big striker held the ball up, turned and unleashed an unstoppable shot that flew beautifully into the top corner giving Joe Welch absolutely no chance.
Stones took control for a period on the back of that strike with Nathan Mavila finding joy down the left flank but actual goal threat then became more limited allowing Saints breathing space to work their way back into the game with some swift counter play. Chambers was brought into action on 13 minutes when he leapt across the face of his goal to superbly paw out a long range strike. Scott Davies was prominent with his long throws ironically countering well-rehearsed efforts from the opposition’s Lee Chappell. Luke O’Nien also caught the eye in the midfield with some decent tackles and passing.
Saints had their best period of the half as they broke with pace; their forward Jamal Lowe presenting the greatest threat to Stones backline. It was Lowe that came closest to finding an equaliser on the half hour mark when his rifled effort struck the top of the upright and flew away to safety.
The away side hit back and Jonny Wright was unlucky with a strike that went just over; Stones ended the half with a scramble in the Saints box that was almost deflected in via a Davies effort.
Stones needed to be alert at the start of the second period as they defended their narrow advantage. Chambers was brought into prominence again with another athletic save to keep his new side fully in the contest.
The away side grabbed a crucial second goal on 54 minutes and it was Louis again who sent the 300 Stones following into raptures. Louis received the ball with his back to goal and using his strength to shrug off the close attentions of two defenders turned and smashed the ball home.
But Stones two goal cushion did not last for long – in fact 5 minutes. Saints got the consolation their attacking efforts deserved when John Frendo stretched to poke the ball past Chambers for 1-2.
Wealdstone were now suddenly under real pressure for the first time in the match but held out with their defence well marshalled, with Wes Parker and Tom Hamblin holding firm.
Possibly an injury to referee Andy Laver aided Stones cause as play was held up for 6 minutes whilst he was treated.
Chambers did save Stones again with another super effort but it was the away side that wrapped up the points with a third goal 4 minutes from normal time. Louis again galloped clear and looking up rolled the ball to an on rushing Scott Davies who arrowed his unerring strike past Welch.
Wealdstone: Chambers, Martin, Watts, Parker, Hamblin, Corcoran, Wright, O’Nien, Louis, Davies, Mavila. Subs used: McGleish, Cronin, Ball. Not used: Lucien, Hammond