Report - Wealdstone 3 - 3 Bath City
Elliot Charles earned Wealdstone a point against Bath City in a thrilling encounter at Grosvenor Vale. Ross Stearn scored a hat trick for the away side but Charles scored 90th minute equaliser to draw 3-3.
Wealdstone captain Jerome Okimo was back in the side after missing the last 2 league games due to injury, whilst Chris Regis came in to replace Jake Sheppard.
The playing conditions were severely impeded after the pouring rain, but attention at The Vale turned to the respectful tributes for Remembrance Weekend. Wealdstone unveiled a new memorial to honour the club members that fell in both World Wars, and this was shortly followed by a fitting minutes silence and The Last Post. Wealdstone also played the match in the club’s kit from 1919, an honourable gesture to those that were killed.
It was; however, the worst start that Stones could have hoped for, with the first 12 minutes seeing Bath’s Ross Stearn smash two shots past Jonathan North. After a weak appeal for a Wealdstone penalty, Bath’s first attack saw Adam Mann feed Stearn who drilled a low shot across the keeper into the bottom corner. After 11 minutes, Joe Raynes flicked a header over the bar but within 30 seconds Stearn found himself on the edge of the box and after a superb stepover, fired the ball into the bottom left corner. Stones were stunned.
Bath were by far the better side from the start, with more desire and providing more options. Wealdstone couldn’t find a route forward with Bradley Hudson-Odoi the only candidate for creativity, using his pace on the left side to get ahead of Michee Efete.
There was one positive moment for the home side when Joe Payne darted infield and used the overlapping Hudson-Odoi, but his cross was tipped over Rhys Tyler at the far post. This was encouragement for Stones but nothing more than that.
Bath City were comfortable with their lead and looked dangerous when they fizzed the ball across the surface. The interchanges between Sean Rigg, Adam Mann and Ross Stearn were aesthetically pleasing and they had potential to cause even more damage.
The Wealdstone players would have been disappointing with their first half performance and manager Bobby Wilkinson was visibly concerned. The quality was there, but the mentality wasn’t. Hudson Odoi and Bradley Bubb were replaced by Danny Green and Fumnaya Shomotun.
As expected, the second half started much brighter from a Wealdstone perspective. They lifted the urgency and started pressing Bath City, attempting to reduce the deficit. It was a resolute performance from the away side at this point, though, not allowing Stones to have a clear opportunity to get back into the game.
Bath should have finished the match on the hour mark. Ross Stearn used the referee’s advantage well to break away and sprint down the left side. Joe Raynes was racing down the middle, chased by left back Joe Payne, but Jonathan North smothered the shot once it came to him.
It was in the 73rd minute that the game turned on its head. Simon Mensah skipped past 4 Bath City players on the right side, before being brought down by Jack Batten. The resulting free kick was bizarrely turned goalwards by Bath captain Anthony Straker and Stones were back in the game.
Then Elliot Charles entered the frame. He is a common substitute for Stones but had struggled to make an impression in the league. But on 85 minutes, he flicked on a high ball from a free kick and Robbie Cundy raised an arm, Charles slammed home the spot-kick for 2-2. Stones performance had rocketed.
Bath wouldn’t lie down after a number of strong attacks and 2 minutes later they were winning the game with Ross Stearn completing his hat trick. A ball towards the far post was missed by everyone and he prodded into the corner. This looked likely to silence Stones, but the home side sent The Vale into jubilation under the lights and in the pouring rain, when Charles swivelled and drove his shot in off the post. An unbelievable end to a thrilling game with both sides sharing a point.
Wealdstone First Team Coach, Mike Percival, said “Obviously so disappointing in the first half, beaten all over the pitch. We started the second half better and the balance was better. Elliot Charles made a massive difference. Elated, disappointed are just some of the emotions right now but we have to take the positives.
“We signed Elliot to use his physical presence in games. It’s taken a couple of weeks for him to get up to speed but he’s had to wait for his chance. He did what he needed to do today, change the game so fair play to him.”
Wealdstone: North, Tyler, Wilson, Okimo, Poku, Hudson-Odio, Mensah, Pratt, Bubb, Regis. Subs used Shomotun,Green, Charles Not used Monakana, Sheppard
Report by Sam Watts
Geoff Smith pics HERE