MATCH REPORT | Hartlepool United 3-1 Wealdstone
Updated: Jan 10
Wealdstone were beaten 3-1 against a very good Hartlepool United side at Victoria Park. Goals from Luke Armstrong, Rhys Oates and Nicky Featherstone gave the Pools a fourth straight league win, whilst Jacob Mendy pulled one back for the Stones with 15 minutes to go.
Stones boss Dean Brennan made three changes to the side that lost to Maidenhead United on Boxing Day, with Michael Phillips and Dan Wishart making their returns from injury and Matt Lench also thrown in to make his first start since resigning from Slough.
It was a strong start from the second-placed hosts and they capitalised on a slip at the back from the Stones but Armstrong's ninth minute effort was pushed wide by Stuart Moore from a tight angle.
Moore then gave Gavan Holohan a big chance after he failed to clear a Jerome Okimo backpass, the winger collected the ball near the byline and squared to Featherstone but Connor Smith denied him with a great last ditch tackle.
Moses Emmanuel had the Stones best chance of the first half after he latched onto a long ball, but his effort was crucially blocked by the recovering Timi Odusina.
The Pools ramped up the pressure and Moore did well to deny Ryan Johnson after pinball in the Stones area. On 35 minutes the hosts broke the deadlock. Mark Shelton beat two defenders before squaring to Armstrong who had an easy finish from close range.
Hartlepool should've doubled their lead just two minutes later after some good work from Oates down the right found Holohan with the goal gaping, but the attacker struck wide.
The Stones almost equalised just a minute into the second half but Ben Killip made a brilliant stop to deny Emmanuel from close range.
Michee Efete had to be alert to clear an Oates effort off the line and Jacob Mendy went close for the Stones after an indirect free kick in the Hartlepool area.
But on 54 minutes the Pools went 2-0 up in controversial circumstances. They hit the Stones on the break and Moore got a hand on David Ferguson's effort which was then tapped in on the goal line by Oates who looked to be in an offside position behind the keeper on the goal line when the ball was initially struck.
The controversy was soon forgotten just five minutes later when Featherstone struck a low effort into the bottom corner when unchallenged in the Stones area.
Wealdstone rallied and hit the bar for the first time on 73 minutes when Lench got on the end of a looped Efete cross, his effort had Killip beaten but bounced off the crossbar and Hartlepool cleared.
Just two minutes later the Stones were back in it, some good work from Efete saw him square to Mendy on the edge of the box and he picked his spot to fire an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner.
The Stones showed the resilience that won them the National League South title last season and almost made it 3-2 when Kundai Benyu thundered a 20-yard free kick off of the crossbar, Efete then slipped at the crucial moment to tap in the rebound and Luke Williams scrambled it clear. Wealdstone found time to hit the crossbar again in stoppage time when Mendy had a 30-yard effort tipped onto the bar by Ben Killip but after some relentless pressure in the final 15 minutes the Stones couldn't add to their tally.
Three home games await for the Stones, starting next weekend when National League North leaders Gloucester City visit The Vale in the FA Trophy.
WEALDSTONE: Moore, Efete, Phillips, Okimo (c), Wishart (Kouogun 67), Smith, Green, Lench (Benyu 83), Lewis, Mendy, Emmanuel. Subs not used: Askew, Slew, Diallo. HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Killip, Magloire, Odusina, Johnson, Sterry, Ferguson, Shelton, Featherstone (c), Holohan (Williams 68), Armstrong (Bloomfield 68), Oates (Molyneux 79). Subs not used: Donaldson, Crawford.
Report by Chris Woods