Wealdstone U18 1 - 3 Staines Town U18
Wealdstone Under 18’s lost 3-1 to the young talent from Staines Town at The Vale, but it was a pleasant reminder of the players emerging through the club’s youth system.
As is the nature of playing football at this age, everybody believes they have the ability, but it’s work rate, determination and willingness to put yourself on the line that demonstrate potential. There is a combination of talent and grit in the Wealdstone Under 18 side and tonight’s game against Staines Town’s youth representatives showed Easter eggs of ability from all areas of the pitch.
Luke Massingham is without a doubt the headline act, 16 years old but playing well beyond his years. He reads the game, his commitment is unquestionable, he is a leader and he’s an example to follow. Femi Azeez is quick and nimble, racing with the ball strapped to the tip of his boots. These two players have been lucky enough to make their first team debuts about 2 weeks ago, but what about their teammates?
Some of the talent that caught the eye this evening included goalscorer John Nwawular who worked in tandem with Azeez to cause trouble in behind. His header was powerful in the first half and his willingness to close down was tremendous. Connor Maher is the number 10, with a great deal of vision, it was quite remarkable to see him repeatedly pick out teammates within a couple of seconds when pressed. Right back Lucas Sheehan may go under the radar slightly, but his composure to deal with left winger Stanley Channel was not missed. There were plenty more positive attributes across the board.
Set pieces appeared to be key in the first half of the match, with just 3 minutes on the clock when John Nwawular rose high and powerfully nodded a header past Mac Chisholm from a corner to give Stones a 1-0 lead. It almost woke Staines up. From that point onwards, the away sides’ back line improved and they settled more, proving frustrating for Stones left winger Josip Jevdijc who couldn’t quite manoeuvre a clear-cut opportunity.
Stanley Channel is a fantastic player, it must be said, firing the ball across Joe Ringer and in off the inside of the post to level the match 5 minutes later. The blame was quickly forgotten and Stones worked hard to prevent Channel from getting any space. He was limited to one snapshot that came off the outside of the post on 27 minutes.
Stones had two corners since the goal which were not only dealt with efficiently, but one lead to a break, exposing the defence but almost reliant on the trustworthy Luke Massingham to get back to retrieve possession. However, Stones should real quality with the ball, especially in midfield with Connor Maher finding blue shirts with a simple glance, no matter how far. Both sides put the ball in the net a second time, both ruled out for offside. A draw was a fair reflection at half time.
It was a freezing cold evening, but the players added some fire with a few late challenges leading to the referee speaking to Stones captain, Massignham, and booking Lucas Sheehan. A chance for a shot at goal for the scorer Nwawular was squandered with a standing shot safely into the goalkeeper’s arms and Jack Morries repeated the trait at the other end.
But it was just after the hour mark that a loss in concentration lead to Staines Town taking the lead for the first time in the match. The Stones players became slowly more infuriated with refereeing decisions, and centre midfielder Jean Ngongang was booked for reacting badly after a foul.
Stones looked for balls through in behind many a time, but there was no way through, often finding themselves on the back foot. Staines had their central midfielders working in a good transition leading to the killer on 80 minutes. There was room for a perfectly weighted outside of the foot pass into Massill Chabane, who squeezed it home for 3-1. Stones failed to break down a very confident away defence.
Wealdstone U18: Ringer, Sheehan, Massingham (C), Warbuton, Dumba, Mason, Ngongang, Maher, Azeez, Jevdijc, Nwawular
Staines Town U18: Chisholm, Roundi, Baddock, Hyett, McShane, Piorkowski (C), Smith, Channell, Chabane, Morris
Report Sam Watts