MATCH REPORT | Wealdstone 0-0 Southend United
Wealdstone earned their first point of the 2021/22 campaign with a hard-fought goalless draw and clean sheet against Southend United at The Vale this afternoon.
Manager Stuart Maynard made two changes to the side that were beaten by Chesterfield on Saturday, with Ashley Charles and Jack Cawley making their first starts of the season.
The Blues controlled the first half, galvanising a scoring opportunity from as early as the fourth minute of play when Matthew Dennis shrugged off Jack Cook on the left wing to fire a shot from an acute angle, but Stones’ number one George Wickens was equal to the effort, saving with his legs to deny the forward.
The visitors continued to dominate proceedings and were agonisingly close to seizing the initiative in the 25th minute, when the home side were caught out from a quick free kick and the ball fell to Rhys Murphy who pulled off an acrobatic bicycle kick, with only the crossbar saving Wealdstone’s blushes.
Two minutes later, against the run of play, the Stones were presented with a chance to score when Josh Umerah latched onto a fluffed clearance and was tripped by Southend’s goalkeeper Steve Arnold on the edge of the box, however Charlie Cooper could only blast the resultant free kick over the crossbar.
In the 33rd minute, the visitors nearly broke the deadlock when Harry Phillis unleashed a fantastic effort from 25 yards; prompting Wickens to produce a brilliant fingertip save.
As the first half drew to a close, the Stones began to settle into the tempo of the game and rally for a goal just before the interval. Charles curled a free kick from 25 yards towards the top corner, but Arnold responded with a solid save to punch the ball wide.
The Stones returned from the break with an added impetus as they started to play on the front foot and take the game to the Blues.
In the 51st minute, Cooper caught Arnold off-guard as he struck a free kick under the wall, but the effort was deflected just wide of the target.
Wealdstone continued in the ascendancy as the second half progressed, with Cooper spinning and shooting on the edge of the area, however his shot lacked power.
The home side displayed resilient defending, while overloading both wings as they pressed and probed for an opener.
Four minutes from time, the Stones looked like they had profited from their dominance when Umerah converted past Arnold, but referee Matthew Russell adjudged there to have been a foul in the process.
Deep into stoppage time, Wealdstone threw one last roll of the dice as Cooper whipped the ball into the box to Umerah, who cut back to Craig Fasanmade, but the substitute’s effort was well-saved by Arnold.
After a vastly improved second half performance, the spoils were shared with the home side registering their first point and clean sheet of the season.
Wealdstone return to action on Saturday 4th September, when they travel to face Dagenham & Redbridge at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, in a 3pm kickoff.
WEALDSTONE: Wickens, Cook, Okimo (c), Cawley, Eleftheriou, Charles, Dyer, Cooper, Lewis (Wishart 73), Browne (Fasanmade 73), Umerah.
Subs not used: Buse, Dronfield, Elito.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee