MATCH REPORT | Southend United 2-1 Wealdstone
Ten-man Wealdstone finished the 2022/23 season with defeat after a narrow 2-1 defeat away at Southend United.
The visitors took a first half lead when Charles Clayden scored his third goal in as many games. The hosts equalised early in the second half through Wes Fonguck before the game took a turn moments later.
Nathan Ferguson saw red against his former club for a challenge on Cavaghn Miley before Harry Cardwell snatched a late winner.
With the hosts needing a win and results to go their way to secure a play-off position and Stones nestled safely in mid-table it was Maynard's men that made a positive impact to the match first half.
Dominic Hutchinson, a handful in his hour's work, carved out the Stones first opportunity of the game, swerving an effort onto the crossbar just five minutes in after some good foot work from Jaydn Mundle-Smith.
He then turned provider for the opening goal of the game. Some nice work from Alex Dyer set Clayden free down the left, he then played in Hutchinson down the line before working back into the box to meet the striker's cross with a deft flick past Stuart Arnold in the Shrimpers goal.
Hutchinson almost doubled the Stones lead on 35 minutes, cutting inside from the right only to see Arnold get down low to meet his effort with a solid stop.
It wasn't all one-way traffic for the Stones in the first half. Sam Howes pulled off a brilliant double stop to deny Cardwell on 41 minutes.
With the hosts having to leave nothing to chance, they begun the second half well and equalised five minutes in. Wealdstone's failure to clear their lines on three attempts eventually saw the ball fall to Fonguck 25-yards out who tucked a pinpoint finish past Howes.
The game then took a turn two minutes later. Ferguson lunged in on Miley and with the home players and fans incensed, the referee withdrew a red card for the Stones midfielder. Wealdstone players equally incensed a similar challenge on Ashley Charles in the first half wasn't even penalised.
With the game now shifted the visitors had to dig in and produce a defensively resolute performance, and on the most-part they did. Reducing Louis Lomas and Dan Mooney to half efforts that Howes dealt with easily.
However, on 82 minutes the Shrimpers scored the goal their man advantage earned. Noor Husin worked some space down the Stones right evading Micah Obiero and Sonny Lo-Everton before crossing low to Cardwell who converted from close range.
Stones couldn't muster up an equaliser and end a very positive season with a defeat, but take comfort in producing the club's highest league finish in 37 years.
WEALDSTONE: Howes, Barker, Barrett, Mundle-Smith, Clayden (Cook 86), Charles (Allarakhia 70), Dyer (c), Ferguson, Lo-Everton, Obiero, Hutchinson (Olomola 59).
Subs: Negraru, Whittaker.
Attendance: 8,434 (including 332 Stones fans)
Report by Chris Woods