REPORT | Wealdstone 3-2 Rochdale
Wealdstone pulled off a dramatic comeback at the death to defeat play-off hopefuls Rochdale in style, at the Vale.
Kairo Mitchell and Ryan East netted for James McNulty’s side, while a Sean Adarkwa goal and brace from skipper Jack Cook sealed all three points for the Stones in a thrilling encounter.
Stuart Maynard made three changes to the side that were beaten by Solihull Moors two weeks ago, with Alex Dyer and Sean Adarkwa returning to the starting line-up, while Brandon Mason made his home debut.
The visitors made the perfect start, taking the lead after just ten minutes as Mitchell latched onto a precise through ball and poked the ball home past the on-rushing Jed Ward from 20 yards, to notch his eighth goal of the season.
Wealdstone nearly levelled nine minutes later when Adarkwa’s instinctive effort looked goal-bound, but Louie Moulden responded with a fine one-handed save to deny the striker.
Goalscorer Mitchell looked to double his team’s advantage in the 27th minute, however his first-time shot was well-held by Ward.
The Stones came close to equalising again in the 32nd minute when Adarkwa fired on-target from an acute angle, prompting Moulden to punch clear.
As Maynard’s side continued to search for a goal, Moulden was once again on-hand to produce a solid save to deny Tarryn Allarakhia’s near post strike.
At the opposing end, Mitchell teed-up Ryan East for a fierce shot that drew an excellent finger-tip save from Ward.
Moments later, Cian Hayes skipped past the Stones’ defence, firing narrowly wide from just outside the area.
The Dale then had a goal disallowed when Ian Henderson’s finish was ruled out for off-side.
Just before half-time, Wealdstone duly levelled the contest when Cook diverted Allarakhia’s cross home past Moulden.
Bolstered by going into interval on level terms, the Stones started the second-half on the front-foot as they looked to seize the initiative.
However, it was the Dale who took the ascendancy through a quick counter-attack, resulting in Hayes squaring the ball to East to fire past Ward in the 53rd minute.
Rochdale’s lead was short-lived as the Stones drew level three minutes later when Adarkwa converted Cook’s pinpoint cross past Moulden.
With 20 minutes remaining, the visitors looked like they had edged ahead as Devante Rodney and Henderson struck goal-bound efforts in quick succession, but last-ditch defending from the Stones preserved the score-line.
As the match progressed into the final stages, both sides rallied for a late winner, with Kyle Smith’s dangerous cross finding Corey Andrews, but the substitute could only head over from close range.
However, the drama was not over as Smith’s free-kick was headed home by captain Cook in the 95th minute to seal a remarkable fight back from the Stones.
Wealdstone return to action next Saturday 18th November when they travel to the Shay Stadium to face FC Halifax Town in a 3pm kick-off.
WEALDSTONE: Ward, Barker, Cook (c), Mundle-Smith, Smith, Charles, Dyer (Ferguson 60), Mason, Kretzschmar (Obiero 39), Allarakhia, Adarkwa (Andrews 85).
Subs not used: Barrett, Abdulmalik.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee