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Wealdstone's FA Trophy dream ends against Newport County
Wealdstone’s brilliant run in the FA Trophy came to an end after losing 3-1 on aggregate to Newport County following a goalless draw in their semi-final second leg at Grosvenor Vale.
The Stones always knew it was going to be a tough ask producing a comeback against the Conference side. Wealdstone had a few opportunities but in truth home goalkeeper Jonathan North was the pick of their side with a string of excellent saves.
Gordon Bartlett’s team will take a lot from their run in the competition, which started back in October, after shock wins over Barrow and Cambridge United. The Stones will now turn their attention to a late surge for the Ryman Premier play-offs.
A big crowd gathered at Grosvenor Vale for the second leg, with around 700 supporters making the trip from Newport, as the 1985 Trophy winners attempted to reach Wembley again.
The Stones came to life after 15 minutes when Peter Dean’s flick nearly tested visiting goalkeeper Glyn Thompson. But the hosts went even closer when prolific striker Richard Jolly’s low strike was turned round the post by Thompson.
Wealdstone keeper North was called into action after 25 minutes when he pushed Elliott Buchanan’s effort around the post.
Former Watford stopper North pulled off a brilliant save from Sam Foley’s free-kick which kept Bartlett’s side in the contest.
Wes Parker released Jolly, as half-time approached, and the striker’s effort was too close to Thompson who easily saved the ball.
The Stones threatened at the start of the second half when Kurtney Brooks released Dean and his cross was interecepted by a County defender.
Wealdstone were fortunate not to concede after 58 minutes when Jolly’s pass went astray and Newport broke but Nat Jarvis’s shot was superbly blocked by North’s feet.
The Stones made a change on the hour mark with striker Scott Fitzgerald replacing Dean.
Another chance went begging for the hosts when Alan Massey put in a teasing cross but Jolly couldn’t get enough on the ball to hit the target.
The Stones should have taken the lead when Jolly put in a cross but Scott McCubbin sent his volley well over the crossbar.
Wealdstone kept pressing for an opening and came close again with 15 minutes remaining when Brooks drilled a low strike just past the post.
Foley should have fired the visitors in front late on with a tricky run but he settled for a corner as the visitors moved closer to a place at Wembley.
Substitute Romone Rose hit a fierce strike in the closing minutes but man-of-the-match North palmed the ball over for a corner.
The Stones were given four minutes of injury time to try and set up a big climax but it was not to be as their exceptional FA Trophy run ended one step from Wembley.
Wealdstone: North; McCubbin, Massey, Parker, Cronin; Smith, Brooks, O’Leary (Martin, 72), Chappell (Hicks, 62), Dean (Fitzgerald, 61), Jolly
Newport County: Thompson; Warren, Yakubu, Foley, Knights; Jarvis (Harris, 65), Hughes, Pipe (Rose, 78), Rodgers; Buchanan, Porter
Referee: James Linington