It was a case of what might have been for Wealdstone after a second half of high drama and heart-stopping entertainment ultimately saw them come up just short in a 3-2 defeat to Chelmsford City at Grosvenor Vale.

Bobby Wilkinson’s side almost came back from the dead and could well have won the game when they had Chelmsford on the ropes after battling back from 3-0 down, but Danny Green’s penalty was saved by Nathan McDonald – a spot-kick that would have brought the home side a deserved equaliser on 69 minutes.

But the massively under pressure City somehow held out for the three points with a combination of luck and, for the home fans, gut wrenchingly poor finishing from their side.

After a relatively even and somewhat scrappy start to the game, Stones had a slight edge but found themselves constantly being pressed hard by a typically physically powerful and well-organised Clarets side.

The first taste of what was to follow for the hosts arrived on 14 minutes when David Pratt’s headed goal was ruled out for off side. Rhys Tyler, who was a threat to City all afternoon, shot wide soon after as Stones probed for openings.

Just when Stones seemed to be gaining a real foothold in the contest, the away side took the lead with a spectacular strike from Michael Spillane. The big defender astutely spotted Jonathan North off his line and from fully 50 yards out lofted the ball over him with the goalkeeper desperately clutching thin air.

This knocked the stuffing out of Stones, coming as it did against the run of play, and they never really recovered in the first period, falling further behind 10 minutes later when Rhys Murphy powered a header past North from a fine Matthew Young cross.

Stones needed a spark of inspiration to breath some life back into their game but within four minutes of the restart they conceded a third goal from a Tommy Wraight strike and looked down and out at 3-0.

But within two minutes Wilkinson’s men had pulled a goal back when Max Porter bounced the ball into his own net from a goalmouth scramble.

Suddenly, with the belief of a goal, Wealdstone awoke from their slumbers and with nothing more to lose went on all-out attack. Green fired over when well placed from another Tyler cross but the catalyst for their revival came when substitute Stefan Brown came on.

It was then the charge of the light brigade as Stones carved out chance after chance. None more so than when Bradley Hudson-Odoi miscued in front of goal after a great turn by Bradley Bubb.

Brown then chased down a lost cause and McDonald sliced his clearance out and the same player almost doubled his tally with a close effort.

Brown finally got the reward for his efforts and seized on a great pass and netted with aplomb on 68 minutes.

It was now all Wealdstone who sensed they had the momentum to equalise and to go on and win the game.

The unrelenting pressure finally told when a handball in the City area gave Stones the chance they needed to level the scores.

The normally very reliable Green hit the penalty low and hard but somehow McDonald pushed the ball out for a corner.

And from that set piece a powerful goal-bound header from Connor Stevens was incredibly hacked away with Stones players protesting it was over the line.

But still the chances came and went for the home side. Bubb was put clean through with time and space but somehow struck the upright with eight minutes remaining, and then the same player missed an opportunity at the death from a long throw from substitute Matt Lench that caused havoc in the Clarets defence

Stones take a break from league action on Saturday when they enter the Emirates FA Cup at the second qualifying round stage with a home tie against Great Wakering Rovers.