Report - Eastleigh 1-0 Wealdstone
Wealdstone were narrowly edged by Eastleigh in a feisty contest at the Silverlake Stadium on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.
A controversial second half goal from Tristan Abrahams proved to be the difference between the two sides in a scorching encounter.
The Stones started the game with two changes from Saturday's win over Bromley, with Jaydn Mundle-Smith and Dom Hutchinson in for Lewis Kinsella and Malachi Napa.
It was the Spitfires galvanised the first chance of the afternoon when Corey Panter’s pinpoint free kick found Brennan Camp at the far post, with the defender rising highest to send his header onto the roof of the net, after only seven minutes.
Eastleigh continued to dominate proceedings during the early stages of the match and crafted another effort on goal at the quarter of an hour mark, when debutant John Oyenuga fizzed a shot just wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Wealdstone were forced into an early substitution when injured forward Olufela Olomola had to be replaced by Rhys Browne in the 32nd minute.
The home side’s best opportunity of the half came in the 36th minute when Jake Hesketh let rip a powerful low drive from just outside the area. But, Sam Howes who was solid throughout the game in Wealdstone’s goal, reacted with a smart save to thwart the danger.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 59th minute when Ryan Hill cut the ball back to Abraham’s, who fired past Howes at the second time of asking, after initially being denied by Stones’ stopper. This marked the striker’s first league goal for his new club, having joined from Grimsby Town on a free transfer this summer.
Controversy surrounded the goal as the linesman had previously flagged for a foul on Wealdstone defender Deji Elerewe; however referee Lee Collins signalled play on and the home side duly capitalised.
Wealdstone responded positivity to falling behind, immediately probing for an equaliser, with Hutchinson’s strike stinging the palms of goalkeeper Joe McDonnell after some clever play from Tarryn Allarakhia.
On the stroke of regulation time, the Spitfires were agonisingly close to doubling their lead and putting the result beyond doubt when Oscar Rutherford skipped inside the box and rifled a shot on target, with only the post preventing the substitute from scoring.
With seven additional minutes added, Stuart Maynard’s side rallied for a late leveller, but Eastleigh held firm for the victory, nullifying the Stones with some resolute defending to secure all three points.
Wealdstone return to action on Tuesday evening when they make their first ever trip to Boundary Park to face Oldham Athletic, in a 7.45pm kick-off.
WEALDSTONE: Howes, Barrett, Cook (c), Elerewe (Habergham 69), Mundle-Smith (Napa 82), Charles, Ferguson, Kretzschmar, Allarakhia, Hutchinson, Olomola (Browne 33).
Subs not used: Kinsella, Sesay.
Attendance: 1,814 (including 189 Stones fans)
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee