Wealdstone come from two goals down to beat leaders Hampton & Richmond Borough

First published in Local Sport

An astonishing second-half fightback saw Wealdstone come from two goals down to claim a massive 3-2 victory over top-of-the-table Hampton and Richmond Borough in another thrilling Monday night game at Grosvenor Vale.

After a disappointing first half which saw Stones go in 2-0 down at the break, there looked little hope of a comeback against a Hampton side that were undefeated in the league prior to this clash. But this is a Wealdstone side that have proven time and time again that they don’t know when they’re beaten, and second-half goals from Alex Dyer, Sean Cronin and Richard Jolly saw the hosts claim the unlikeliest of three points in their continuing quest for promotion.

The big talking point before kick-off was the reintroduction of Alan Massey to the match-day squad as he was named among the substitutes. With the popular defender having dual registered for Conference Premier side Braintree Town a couple of weeks previously, he was given permission by Town boss Alan Devonshire to play in this encounter due to the fact their game was postponed on Saturday, and Massey is cup tied for their FA Cup encounter with Tranmere Rovers.

The opening 20 minutes was a fairly placid affair with both sides struggling to get to grips with the greasy playing surface. The best chance for Stones came ten minutes in when Tom Pett created space for himself down the left before drilling the ball across the box where, unfortunately for him, it was cleared just as Jolly looked set to pull the trigger.

At the other end Lee Chappell was in the right place at the right time to block an effort from James Simmonds after he had been picked out by Charlie Moone.

The first effort on target for either side came on 24 minutes and it resulted in a goal for the visitors. Malvin Kamara swung over a cross from the right-hand side which was flicked on by James Simmonds into the path of Joel Ledgister, who made no mistake as he reacted first to head home from inside the six-yard box.

Stones’ first real effort of the evening came eight minutes later when Jolly laid the ball back to Pett on the edge of the box and he hit a curling effort which Hampton keeper Rodney Chiweshe did exceptionally well to turn over the bar.

Pett was involved again two minutes later, lofting the ball to the far post where Peter Dean was able to head back across goal. The ball just evaded the on-rushing Jolly and found its way to Wes Parker at the far post but the defender couldn’t get enough on it to turn it home.

The miss proved to be costly as 60 seconds later Hampton were 2-0 to the good. Scott McCubbin crucially lost possession on the left which allowed Simmonds to sprint down that flank before picking out Tom Hickey in the middle and he side-footed home first time.

Stones tried hard to respond but they were struggling to create anything in the final third. Dean did have a chance three minutes before the break when he got on the end of a cross, but his volley lacked the power and direction to beat Chiweshe, who gathered easily.

After what had been a highly disappointing half for the home side, the second period got off to the best possible start when they pulled a goal back just three minutes after the restart. Dyer picked up the ball out wide 25 yards from goal, where he lofted a delivery into the far post which evaded a confused Chiweshe and found its way into the top corner.

The goal galvanised Wealdstone and the confidence flowed back to their play, and Chiweshe did well to turn away a 20-yard effort from Nathan Webb.

It proved to be just temporary respite for the Beavers though, as Stones pulled level from the resultant corner. Dyer curled the ball into Cronin, who hit a superb volley first time from just inside the box which arrowed its way into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the vociferous home support.

After the equaliser it looked like either side could go on and snatch a winner. Pett cut inside and curled an effort at goal which Chiweshe palmed away at full stretch before, at the other end, Charlie Moone curled a 20 yard free-kick straight into the arms of Banks.

Stones were dealt a blow on 76 minutes as for a second game running, they lost their skipper to injury, this time a painful looking ankle problem ending the night prematurely for Parker; Massey coming on in his place.

After a frantic final ten minutes it was Wealdstone who eventually grabbed the winner, which on the evidence of their second half performance was well deserved. The hugely influential Dyer threaded a ball through which took a deflection off Alan Bray and landed at the feet of Jolly, who did what he does best and buried the ball dramatically past Chiweshe to complete a memorable comeback for Stones.

A bad night for Hampton got even worse in injury time when they were reduced to ten men when Gary Holloway was handed a second yellow for an apparent elbow on Dyer.

Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker (c) (Massey 76), Cronin, Dyer, Webb, O’Leary (Brooks 81), Dean (Baidoo 84), Jolly, Pett. Not used: Haxhia and Nicholas.

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