REPORT | Hartlepool United 2-1 Wealdstone
A late Wealdstone onslaught almost pulled a draw out of the fire at the Suit Direct Stadium against high-flying Hartlepool United.
Cracking late efforts from substitute Olofela Olomola and Charlie Barker so nearly poached an unlikely point after a goal in each half from the prolific Tom Crawford and Manny Dieseruvwe had given the home side a 2-0 lead.
After 10 minutes of cat and mouse football Hartlepool went ahead. A low cross from the left was teed up for Crawford to crack a low right footer past Jed Ward from 16 yards.
It might have been 2-0 as Brody Paterson fired wide - and then Ward used his legs to deny Callum Cooke when a defensive mistake gave the striker time inside the box.
Stones were growing into the game though and Nathan ferguson flashed 20 yarder just too high, matched by a low effort from Pools’ Cooke which Ward saved comfortably.
But as the visitors’ passing game struggled to make headway against the well-drilled Pool, Cooke raced away down the left and squared the ball to the lively Crawford. He seemed certain to score but Stones’ Charlie Clayden appeared from nowhere to block his shot.
The second half flared into life as Cooke’s rifled 25 yarder drew a brilliant flying save from Ward. And then Stones substitute Tarryn Allarakhia was flattened on the edge of the Hartlepool box and Ashley Charles was a yard off target with the freekick.
Stones were looking to get on the front foot with the introduction of Allarakhia clearly unnerving the home defence - and a genius turn by Tahvon Campbell on the hour gave Onaraisie his first uncomfortable moment before keeper Pete Jameson made a brave block to keep Pool 1-0 ahead.
Then after a flurry of corners, Jaydn Mundle-Smith picked out Jack Cook at the far post and the skipper’s header dribbled just wide.
The introduction of former Stone Josh Umerah seemed to spur Hartlepool on and Ward saw two snap shots sail narrowly over.
The all-important second goal wasn't long coming though, Paterson breaking away on the left and his precise cross finding the towering Manny Dieseruvwe who climbed above the Stones defence to plant his 67th minute header past Ward.
It was all Hartlepool for five minutes and the visitors’ goal led a charmed life, yet a quick Stones break then saw Allarakhia swopping passes with Ferguson to found the far corner from 20 yards via the post. Stones had a lifeline.
With five minutes to go, Stones third sub Olufela Olomola saw his powerful left footer pawed away by Jameson and, as Hartlepool hung on, defender Charlie Barker let fly from 25 yards only to see his shot skim the crossbar with Jameson beaten.
WEALDSTONE: Ward, Barker, Cook (c), Mundle-Smith, Clayden, Charles, Dyer (Olomola 80), Ferguson, Obiero, Bowen (Allarakhia 45), Campbell (Andrews 73).
Subs not used: Barrett, Adarkwa.
Attendance: 4,072 (including 115 Stones fans)
Report by Tim Parks