MATCH REPORT | Wealdstone 2-7 Hartlepool United
National League table toppers Hartlepool were in seventh heaven at The Vale this afternoon as they produced a dominating display to sink the Stones.
A hat trick from Stockport County loanee Richie Bennett, along with a brace from Rhys Oates, and goals from Nicky Featherstone and Mark Shelton completed the rout for the Pools.
Two late consolatory goals were scored for the Stones, with Sonny Blu Lo-Everton firing home on his debut and Ryan Gondoh notching his second of the season.
Manager Stuart Maynard made one change to the side that lost to Boreham Wood last Saturday, with the injured Joseph Olowu returning to the side in place of Riley Harbottle.
New loan signing from Watford, Lo-Everton, was named on the bench, alongside Ashley Charles who returned from suspension.
Wealdstone started the match impressively, matching the visitors during the early exchanges as they looked to take the game to the current league leaders.
The Stones’ first chance came after quarter of an hour, as Dennon Lewis’ found space to shoot, but his effort was deflected for a corner.
Hartlepool United were agonisingly close to scoring two minutes later as the ball fell to Gavan Holohan who unleashed a shot from just inside the area, but Wealdstone’s number one George Shelvey reacted with a fantastic save to preserve the score line.
However, the Pools opened their account in the 25th minute when Gary Liddle drove into the Stones’ half and found Oates, who turned in the box and fired into the bottom right-hand corner past Shelvey to send the visitors into the lead.
Hartlepool United doubled their advantage in the 39th minute when Oates turned provider, dinking a ball into the box, which was headed home by Bennett.
Two minutes later, the Pools trebled their tally as goal scorer Bennett beat the offside trap and forced a fine save from Shelvey, but the striker quickly followed up his first effort and tapped home to bag a first half brace.
A couple of minutes into the second half, the visitors extended their lead further when Bennett chested the ball down to Oates and he powerfully volleyed home past Shelvey to seal his second of the game.
The Stones continued to probe for a way back into the game and Jacob Mendy nearly provided that moment of class in the 58th minute when he rocketed a trademark effort from range towards the top corner, but Henrich Ravas pulled off a brilliant save to deny this season’s top goal scorer from reducing the deficit.
The Pools added their fifth in the 63rd minute as captain Featherstone stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after referee Tom Reeves adjudged Michael Phillips to have handled in the box.
Goalkeeper Shelvey was on hand again with a superb save to thwart Ryan Donaldson from close range in the 74th minute.
However, two minutes later Hartlepool finally grabbed their sixth goal as Mark Shelton volleyed past Shelvey into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
With ten minutes to go, the visitors fired in their seventh goal when hat trick hero Bennett stepped up to tuck home the second penalty of the afternoon, following a foul from Phillips in the box.
Despite the score line, the Stones continued to battle and were rewarded three minutes from time when Lo-Everton glided past three players and coolly slotted home to score a well-deserved goal on his debut.
Spurred on by this, Wealdstone grabbed another goal back two minutes into stoppage time, as Gondoh fired a sublime effort into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Wealdstone return to action on Tuesday 20th April when they entertain Maidenhead United at The Vale, in a 7.45pm kickoff.
WEALDSTONE: Shelvey, Olowu (Charles 65), Cawley, Okimo (c), Mendy, Smith (Lo-Everton 65), Phillips, Dyer, Green (Parish 77), Gondoh, Lewis.
Subs not used: Askew, Wishart.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Ravas, Cass (Williams 68), Liddle, Odusina, Sterry, Featherstone (c), Shelton, Holohan (Donaldson 68), Ferguson, Bennett, Oates (Elliott 54).
Subs not used: Young, Armstrong.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee