MATCH REPORT | Wealdstone 0-0 Eastleigh
Wealdstone earned a hard-fought point and clean sheet against high-flying Eastleigh at the Vale this evening.
Caretaker manager Stuart Maynard made three changes to the side that were beaten by Sutton United on Saturday, with the suspended Connor Smith returning to the starting line-up, along with Josh Meekings and Michael Phillips.
The opening exchanges were relatively quiet from both sides, with the Stones having to wait until midway through the first half for their first sight of goal. Danny Green embarked on a surging run from midfield and unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which was well-saved by the visitors’ keeper Joe McDonnell.
The remainder of the first half continued in a tightly contested and cagey manner, with neither team able to dominate proceedings or gain a stranglehold on the game.
However, five minutes before halftime, the Stones produced their second strike on goal, with Connor Smith firing with power from range and McDonnell parrying for the Spitfires, but Wealdstone were unable to follow-up and profit.
Eastleigh were the brighter of the two teams in the second half on the attacking front, but the Stones demonstrated a solid shape and resolute defending throughout, maintaining on level terms with the visitors.
Harry Isted was in fine form for Wealdstone all evening, denying Ryan Hill’s 71st minute effort with an excellent save to preserve the score line.
The Stones were forced to substitute central defender Josh Meekings in the 77th minute, when he was injured making a brilliant block to thwart Dan Smith’s shot. As a result, Joseph Olowu slotted into centre back, while Jacob Mendy shuffled to right back.
As Eastleigh continued to enjoy the lions’ share of possession and better goal scoring opportunities, Wealdstone’s tenacious defending was personified by captain Jerome Okimo’s vital header to turn Smith’s dangerous ball behind for a corner in the 84th minute.
On the brink of the final whistle, Isted also came to the rescue for the Stones, producing another crucial save to deny Smith clinching a winner for the Spitfires at the death.
Wealdstone return to action on Saturday 27th February, when they travel to face Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground, in a 3pm kickoff. WEALDSTONE: Isted, Olowu, Meekings (Lafayette 78), Cawley, Okimo (c), Phillips, Smith, Dyer, Mendy, Green, Lewis.
Subs not used: Askew, Wishart, Parish, Dalling.
EASTLEIGH: McDonnell, Tomlinson, Boyce, Bird, Green, Hollands (c), Miley, Smart (Blair 81), Hill, House, Barnett (Smith 73).
Subs not used: Flitney, Bearwish, Scorey. Report by Nicole Cho-Yee