- Nicole Cho-Yee
Report: Wealdstone 1-1 Torquay United
Stuart Maynard’s Wealdstone were held to a point by a dogged Torquay United side, despite dominating an eventful contest at Grosvenor Vale. Gary Johnson’s Gulls stunned the in-form hosts, taking the lead two minutes after kick-off as Ali Omar beat Sam Howes after a wicked free-kick into the box caused havoc. However, the Stones remained patient, stuck to their principles and deservedly levelled the match on 67 minutes when substitute Rhys Browne scored six minutes after his introduction.
With Tarryn Allarakhia pulling the strings, Wealdstone laid siege to the Torquay goal for the last third of the match and created chance after chance. There was a penalty shout, one cleared off the line while the excellent Allarakhia was denied twice at close range. The overwhelmed visitors really were grateful for the final whistle after eight added minutes.
The finish was quite the contrast to the start when Stones found themselves behind really on. But they responded positively and nearly equalised four minutes later when David Sesay’s inviting cross was inches away from being met by the head of Olufela Olomola. The Gulls had the opportunity to double their lead when Dylan Crowe’s cross found captain Asa Hall at the back post. His header looked to be heading towards the bottom right corner, but it hit the post and then bounced back into the arms of Howes.
As the first half progressed, Wealdstone became increasingly dangerous and started to fashion chance after chance, with Allarakhia, Jack Cook, Dom Hutchinson and Jaydn Mundle-Smith going close in quick succession.
The Stones returned from the half-time interval kicking down the slope towards their raucous home support and knew the chances would come if they stuck to their guns.
They thought they had levelled when Hutchinson unleashed a fierce drive towards goal from the right-hand save, but the overworked Lovett was equal to it with a fine save. Wealdstone’s dominance finally paid off in the 67th minute, when more smart approach play from Allarakhia saw the ball fall kindly to top-scorer Browne and he lashed the ball home with his left foot. It was his fifth of the season. Nine minutes later, the Stones looked to have completed their comeback when Olomola set up Browne for a tap-in, but referee Adrian Quelch adjudged that the ball had been cleared off of the line by the Gulls. Displaying their fluid attacking football, the home side relentlessly pushed for the winner and looked to have succeeded right at the death. Allarakhia danced past four defenders and slotted the ball past Lovett towards the bottom corner, but the nimble attacker was denied by the post.
In the end, the home side had to settle for a point, but it was a sign of how well they played that they were roared off by their home fans who knew just how well they had played in completely outplaying Torquay.
Wealdstone: Howes; Sesay, Cook (c), Habergham, Mundle-Smith; Hutchinson, Dyer (Browne 61), Ferguson, Charles (Napa 74), Allarakhia, Olomola. Subs not used: Barrett, Baptiste, Mongoy not used.
* Picture by Mike Renny