Report – East Thurrock Utd 1 – 1 Wealdstone
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Bobby Wilkinson was denied his first win as Wealdstone boss by a late Sam Higgins equaliser as East Thurrock United kept their unbeaten record intact in a performance which the visitors dominated from start to finish.
Matty Whichelow scored Wealdstone’s only goal 13 minutes into the first half before Higgins scored in the 89th minute.
Wilkinson made three changes to the side that drew with Hemel Hempstead Town on Bank Holiday Monday. Ricky Wellard and Matty Whichelow returned to the starting line-up with Matt Day making his debut at centre-back. Other new boys Kaid Mohamed and Jermaine Osei were named on the bench while fellow new signing Luke Williams is still a week away from full fitness.
Stones took an early lead despite a fairly even first 10 minutes. Wellard played in Whichelow on the edge of the box, who spun and placed a well-struck effort into the bottom left corner.
Whichelow almost doubled his tally midway through the half with a sudden burst of pace followed by a 25-yard shot which was just over the bar.
Ryan Sellers saw his first action of the season before half time with Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick hobbling off with a painful looking ankle injury.
The second half was a niggling affair but the unbeaten home side failed to break through a stubborn Stones defence with Jonathan North making no saves worth noting.
It took until the 62nd minute for a key chance to double the lead, again from Whichelow. The midfielder latched onto a long ball before rounding keeper Lukas Lidakevicius but the angle was too tight to roll into the net and the Lithuanian keeper collected his cross-goal ball.
Kaid Mohamed was then introduced and he showed nous to take a quick throw-in to Wellard who’s goal-bound volley was crucially blocked by Marvin Ekpetita.
And with the clock ticking the Rocks equalised. A low free-kick was played to Higgins who held off his man to blast past North from close range and preserve the home side’s unbeaten start to the season.
Stones left Essex with a point but will be much heartened by the performance of the season so far and the news that imposing midfielder Stephane Ngamvoulou is expected to join the squad during the week.
WEALDSTONE: North, Oshodi, Brown, Hill, Day, Whichelow, Wellard, Okimo (c), Fitchett (Benyon 90), Green (Mohamed 70), Hippolyte-Patrick (Sellers 42). Subs not used: Godfrey, Osei.
By Chris Woods
A selection of pictures from Steve Foster. You do NOT have permission to use this image unless it is accredited to Aqueous Sun Photography.Twitter: @aqueoussunphoto