Report - Hayes & Yeading United 2 - 2 Wealdstone
Wealdstone travelled to the SkyEx Community Stadium to face local Southern League Premier Division South side, Hayes and Yeading United, in their second pre-season friendly.
A clinical first half goal from Danny Green, along with a converted penalty from Ross Lafayette, sent the visitors into the lead at half-time. However, two late strikes from the home side inside the last seven minutes made sure the spoils were shared.
New manager Dean Brennan continued to experiment with the side, electing to play two different line-ups in each of the extended 55-minute halves.
The match started at a high tempo, with end-to-end action, as both sides looked to take an early advantage. Wealdstone came close in the 6th minute, as some excellent team build-up play led to a powerful strike from Connor Smith, but United’s goalkeeper Jack Smith produced a solid save to deny the midfielder.
The Stones came close to taking the lead again in the 13th minute. Tenacious work from Jacob Cook in midfield allowed him to seize possession and play through Smith, but United’s ‘keeper Smith was again able to block the goal bound effort, ensuring the tie remained goalless.
A minute later, Wealdstone were inches away from converting; incisive link-up play between Nick Arnold and Smith, led to the latter whipping in a superb cross for Green, whose first time volley smashed off the bar.
Green and Smith successfully linked up again, a minute later; a quick corner from Green found Smith in space, but his rifled effort was cleared by United’s defence.
After a dominant spell of play, the Stones were finally able to make a breakthrough in the 17th minute. Forward Lafayette threaded a perfect ball through to Green, which he latched onto and finished in his trademark clinical style, firing low past ‘keeper Smith, for Wealdstone to take a narrow advantage.
The Stones were temporarily down to 10-men in the 23rd minute as defensive stalwart Connor Stevens had to leave the field of play, due to a bleeding gash on his eyebrow. Brennan brought on substitute Michee Efete. An additional substitution took place in the 38th minute as goalkeeper Jonathan North was replaced by Dylan Paterson, due to injury.
Wealdstone were able to extend their lead further before the stroke of halftime, as brilliant footwork and power from Jake Sheppard allowed him to breeze past two United defenders in the box. This resulted in a late tackle, which referee Connor Griffin adjudged to be a penalty. Lafayette made no mistake from the spot, coolly and calmly firing past Smith in the 54th minute.
Brennan introduced a new starting XI for the second half, which included nine changes from the first half.
The Stones were denied by the woodwork again as Dejon Noel-Williams produced a stunning strike from just outside of United’s box, in the 60th minute, which struck the crossbar.
Wealdstone were unable to increase their lead in the second half, despite goal-bound efforts from Noel-Williams, Jacob Mendy and Kavan Cotter. Dylan Switters also hit the post and crossbar with two excellent strikes as he produced a dynamic and explosive performance in the heart of midfield for the Stones.
In the 48th minute of the second half, United were able to reduce the deficit, as a ball into the Wealdstone box was seized upon by their striker, who fired past Paterson into the net.
On the stroke of full-time, United looked for a late equaliser, as they mounted a last attack. They were duly awarded, as their forward broke free to finish past Paterson and draw the match level.
Wealdstone return to action on Saturday 13th July at 3:00pm with another pre-season friendly away to Hitchin Town FC, at Top Field.
Wealdstone: North (Paterson, 38), Arnold (Trialist, 55), Okimo (Young, 55), Cook (Saunders, 55), Stevens (Efete, 23), Coker (Yaw, 55), Sheppard (Cotter, 55), Smith (Switters, 55), Lafayette (Noel-Williams, 55), Green (Mendy, 55), Lewis (Azeez, 55).
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee