Wealdstone 4-3 Eastleigh - Match Report
Wealdstone produced a phenomenal comeback to defeat Eastleigh at the death in an eventful FA Trophy third round match at The Vale this afternoon.
Second half goals from Charlie Wakefield, Dennon Lewis, Jack Cawley and Jacob Mendy completed a remarkable fight back from the Stones after being three goals behind at the break due to a brace from Spitfires’ Ryan Hill, and a strike from Andrew Boyce.
Manager Dean Brennan made one change to the side that defeated Weymouth last Saturday, as Cawley was brought into the starting line-up to replace the injured Michael Phillips in central defence. Wealdstone Academy’s 16-year-old protege Eli Hearn was also named to the bench, alongside new signing Joshua Debayo.
Eastleigh drew first blood the 7th minute of play through Boyce who rose highest at the far post and guided his header into the bottom corner past Stuart Moore.
The Spitfires then doubled their lead ten minutes later as Hill’s driven strike was deflected past Moore into the net.
The Stones fortunes took a further dent in the 20th minute as Hill coolly fired past Moore to seal his brace and treble Eastleigh’s advantage.
With a mountain to climb, Brennan made his first substitution in the 22nd minute; with Jorome Slew replacing Charlee Hughes to alter Wealdstone’s attacking options.
Despite the disastrous start, the Stones showed cohesion and continued to probe for a way back into the game.
The second half saw the introduction of Charlie Wakefield for Kundai Benyu. The winger made an instant impact, rifling a fantastic long range effort off the underside of the crossbar past Ross Flitney to reduce the deficit for the home side within two minutes of the restart.
In the 56th minute, the Stones had the chance to pull another goal back after some excellent work on the wing from Wakefield led to Alex Dyer being fouled and awarded a penalty, but Lewis’ resultant penalty was smartly saved by Flitney.
Undeterred by this, Wealdstone made amends a minute later as Green’s well-delivered corner was met by Jack Cawley at the back post; the defender nodded home to notch his second goal in as many matches.
The Stones continued to press for an equaliser and they were duly rewarded in the 75th minute when Lewis’ cross was deflected past Flitney to draw the match level and set up an exciting finale.
A minute into stoppage time, Wealdstone looked to have completed their stunning comeback over the Spitfires as the ball fell to Mendy in the box and he calmly slotted past Flitney to seize the lead.
However, further drama was to follow as Eastleigh were awarded a penalty in the forth added minute after Hill was brought down in the box, but Moore pulled off a brilliant save to deny Dan Smith from the spot and send the Stones into the next round of the FA Trophy.
Wealdstone return to league action next Saturday 26th December when they travel to York Road to face Maidenhead United, in 3pm kick-off.
WEALDSTONE: Moore, Efete, Mendy, Cawley, Dyer, Okimo (C), Smith, Benyu (Wakefield, 45), Hughes (Slew, 22), Green (Wishart, 73), Lewis.
Subs not used: Askew, Debayo, Hearn, Randell.
EASTLEIGH: Flitney, Partington (C), Green, Miley, Boyce (Wynter, 45), Smith, Bearwish, Scorey, House (Baggie, 65), Hill, Blair.
Subs not used: Philpot, Payne, Barnett, Smart, Holands.
Report by Nicole Cho-Yee