MATCH REPORT | Wealdstone 1-2 Eastleigh
Wealdstone were narrowly beaten by Eastleigh at The Vale this afternoon in a close contest.
The Spitfires took the lead through Tyrone Barnett, but a late strike from Stones’ substitute Josh Umerah brought a tense finale, with Ben House scoring a last-gasp winner for the Spitfires.
The opening exchanges were cagey and tentative from both sides, with neither team able to penetrate the final third with any cohesion.
Eastleigh galvanised the first chance of the match as Harry Pritchard intercepted a wayward pass from captain Jack Cook and squared to Tom Whelan, but his shot drifted just wide of the post.
Charlie Cooper then went close for the home side, however his long range effort was held well by Joe McDonnell in the Spitfires’ goal.
The Stones’ midfielder nearly broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when his free kick hit the visitors’ wall and almost looped into the far post over McDonnell.
However, it was the Spitfires who drew first blood in the 36th minute as Barnett received the ball on the edge of the box, turned and fired home into the bottom corner past the diving George Wickens.
Both teams started the second half brightly, with the Stones crafting a chance within two minutes as Dennon Lewis cut inside and curled a shot from 20 yards, but Christian Maghoma made a vital deflection to ensure the ball fell safely to Eastleigh’s number one.
As the second half progressed, the Spitfires began to generate more goal scoring opportunities by taking a more direct approach. But player of the match, Nikola Tavares, was in imperious form again, thwarting the Spitfires with a string of excellent last-ditch tackles.
Wealdstone’s top scorer Umerah popped up in the 85th minute to restore parity for the home side, tucking a fantastic shot into the bottom corner past McDonnell from 20 yards out, for his sixth goal of the season.
The Stones looked like they had stolen a share of the points, but Eastleigh’s late rallying proved fruitful as House struck a superb half-volley from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to restore the visitors’ lead in the 88th minute.
Despite a tense last few minutes before the final whistle was blown, the Spitfires held firm to bounce back to winning ways, while the Stones fell to a disappointing home defeat.
WEALDSTONE: Wickens, Stevens (Mundle-Smith 68), Cook (c), Tavares, Eleftheriou (Wishart 68), Charles, Dyer (Umerah 58), Cooper, Lewis, Elito, Bird.
Subs not used: Fasanmade, Buse.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee