- Nicole Cho-Yee
Report - Wealdstone 0-1 Southend United
Wealdstone were narrowly edged by ten-men Southend United, who held firm with a resilient defensive display to secure their first win on the road this season.
A composed second half penalty from Marcus Dackers proved to be the difference between the two sides at Grosvenor Vale.
Stuart Maynard made two changes to the starting line-up as Deji Elerewe and Rhys Browne returned, while Max Kretzschmar made his return to the squad via the bench.
Wealdstone started brightly, coming close to scoring within the first ten minutes of the match when Nathan Ferguson held the ball up nicely before teeing up Rhys Browne, whose volley went just wide of the far post.
On the 17th minute mark, Southend United enjoyed the best chance of the half when striker Dackers’ header hit the crossbar from Dan Mooney’s corner. Gus Scott-Morriss latched onto the rebound, but he could only send his effort over the bar.
As the first half progressed, the Shrimpers grew in confidence and began to dominate proceedings and create further goal scoring opportunities.
Scott-Morriss was next to trouble the hosts when his goal-bound header had to be expertly tipped over the bar by Stones’ shot-stopper, Sam Howes.
Further pressure from the visitors ensued a minute later when Noor Husin’s long-range shot had to be blocked, before Mooney’s dangerous cross was cleared.
It was the home side’s turn to threaten next as Tarryn Allarakhia beat two defenders and then shot on target, with Collin Andeng-Ndi saving the deflected effort.
The Shrimpers continued to probe for an opening and were nearly fruitful in the 31st minute when forward Jake Hyde missed a sitter, volleying over the crossbar from close range from Dackers’ square ball.
Five minutes before the stroke of half time, Southend United won a free kick in a dangerous position, but Noor Husin’s strike was straight at Howes.
Wealdstone returned from the interval in a galvanised fashion and were close to taking the lead when Browne superbly spun his man and played through the lively Dom Hutchinson, but Andeng-Ndi produced a fine save to palm the winger’s effort away.
However, against the run of play, the Shrimpers broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute when Dackers coolly fired home; sending Howes the wrong way from the penalty spot, after referee Scott Tallis adjudged that Olufela Olomola had handled the ball in the box.
With 19 minutes remaining, the visitors were reduced to ten-men as Scott-Morriss was shown a second yellow card.
The Stones nearly benefitted from their numerical advantage immediately when substitute Max Kretzschmar whipped a cross onto the head of Sam Habergham, but Andeng-Ndi responded with a solid save.
As the match entered the final ten minutes, Southend United were close to doubling their lead when Kacper Lopata headed the ball across to substitute Chris When, who smashed his effort just over Howes’ goal.
The hosts continued to rally for a late equaliser and were nearly rewarded for their persistence when Browne and Kretzschmar combined, with the latter firing just over the crossbar, with four minutes to go.
Two minutes later, Kretzschmar popped up again, drilling a low strike towards goal from inside the box, but Andeng-Ndi was equal to the effort.
Despite seven additional added minutes, Maher’s tenacious side defended stoically to ensure all three points.
Wealdstone return to action next Saturday 1st October when they travel to the EBB Stadium to face Aldershot Town in a 3pm kick off.
WEALDSTONE: Howes, Sesay, Elerewe, Cook (c), Habergham, Charles (Dyer 82), Ferguson (Napa 85), Allarakhia, Hutchinson (Kretzschmar 70), Browne, Olomola.
Subs not used: Barrett, Mundle-Smith.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee