Southport 1 – 2 Wealdstone
1 - 2
This momentous FA Trophy 2nd Round Proper victory at National League Southport will be added to the list of all-time great days for Wealdstone fans, management and players. This competition is much cherished by the Wealdstone family and this win will rival those of recent seasons, including the quarter-final triumph over Cambridge United in 2012.
Cherished by Stones, perhaps not so much by some other loftier clubs these days but Wealdstone have a proud tradition in the Trophy and at the Merseyrail Community Stadium on Saturday Stones lived up to those traditions and expectations fully. And then some!
Roared on throughout by the travelling army of 250 Stones fans, every man jack of the Wealdstone team came good to the point of outplaying, and, at times, outclassing, their senior opponents. Certainly, Southport were out battled in a hugely absorbing cup tie played in the right spirit.
Two of Stones players who had previously in the season been under some scrutiny by the demanding Wealdstone fans, Ricky Wellard and Danny Green, were the goal scorers – Green giving Stones the lead in the first half and Wellard with a breath-taking winner in the 72nd minute after the Sandgrounders had levelled up matters early in the second period.
After a cagey start, Jon North comfortably held a header from Jake Wright as Southport’s slow but measured build up style cranked up a little.
Matty Whichelow, back in the Wealdstone starting line-up began to look lively and was causing problems for the ‘Port back line but his strike whistled wide of Magnus Norman’s post.
Jake Wright went wide again after a swifter foray but Stones looked comfortable in defence and sharp in the midfield with Sam Cox’s terrier like play constantly breaking up attacks and making life difficult for a unsettled looking home outfit.
Danny Green had a gilt edged chance to open the scoring on 18 minutes after a trademark jinking run from Wellard, but his point blank strike was blocked.
After another great midfield tackle from Cox, Whichelow was just off target but Stones momentum was building fast as Southport struggled to contain the energy levels and intensity of the away side.
The Sandgrounders hit back but lacked a cutting edge to trouble Stones resolute rear-guard with Liam Goulding and Eddie Oshodi mopping up in the centre of defence.
Something had to give and it finally did on 40 minutes. Wellards rampaged into the box and cut in behind to cross the ball perfectly for Danny Green to plant a header into the net at the far post.
Southport’s experienced Manager Steve Burr had words to say at half time and it showed at his team came out for the second period with far more zest.
Ciaron Brown cleared off the line heroically as ‘Port came forward with far more threat as Stones found themselves under real pressure for the first time in the contest.
And from a good attack, Southport drew level on 53 minutes. A decent passing move saw the ball fall to Jake Wright whose hard, downward strike flew past North.
The home side then suffered a blow and lost their momentum at a critical time when their defender Josh Thompson went down with a bad knee injury and had to be stretchered off, causing a lengthy delay.
Stones rapidly re-grouped and showed good reaction. They won a corner and from Whichelow’s kick the unmarked Brown headed wide to gasps from the Wealdstone ranks.
Stones were now looking for a winner and it almost came when the ever-busy Elliot Benyon poked wide. Then the home side hit back when Liam Nolan for once pulled clear but he shot tamely wide.
The game was won in the 72nd minute. Wellard picked the ball up in the centre of midfield and went on a 20 yard run with the Soundgrounders defence holding off fearing a foul, he looked up and hit the sweetest of strikes from 20 yards out leaving Norman clutching thin air. A fantastic strike that was wildly celebrated.
Southport shook off this massive set back and tried to re-apply pressure, winning some corners but Wealdstone’s defence held firm.
With 8 min0utes of added time being shown by the fourth official it could have been squeaky bottom time but if anything, it looked more likely that Stones would increase their narrow lead. Substitute Nathan Mavila burst down the left and brought an excellent full flying save from Norman
A late, late free kick for the home side came to nothing as the final whistle blew triggering huge celebrations for a magnificent victory.
The draw for the last 16 of the competition take place at 10:30 on Monday 16th January and will be live on Twitter from FA HQ .
Wealdstone: North, Sheckleford, Goulding, Oshodi, Brown, Godfrey, Cox, Wellard (Mavila 87), Whichelow (Wright 77), Green (Koroma 90), Benyon Not used: Hamblin, McGleish
Southport: Norman, Higgins, Aaron Jones, Thompson (White 63), Ashton, Nolan, Weeks (McKeown 46), Hynes, Wright, McKenna, Andrai Jones. Subs not used: Priestley, Grimes, Onovwigum
Steve Foster pictures HERE