Staines Town 2 Wealdstone 2
WEALDSTONE again showed that they have the spirit and skill to match anyone in the Ryman Premier, when they held second-placed Staines to their third consecutive league draw at Wheatsheaf Park.
Not many sides have claimed at least four points off Dover Athletic's nearest rivals at the summit, but that is exactly what Gordon Bartlett's men have managed, with this draw, plus their riotous 4-3 win over Steve Cordery's men at Grosvenor Vale last October.
And they did it the hard way after goal-keeper Shaun Thomas received his marching orders in the first half for a professional foul. Returning shot stop-per Luke Woods came off the bench but the former Malta Under 21 international could not keep out Richard Butler's spot kick, which cancelled out Ryan Ashe's equaliser after Leroy Griffiths had put the hosts ahead.
However, the sending off only served to galvanise Stones, who levelled matters again eight minutes into the restart, when James Gray was flattened in the box. Ashe stepped up and coolly sent Swans keeper Louis Wells the wrong way.
"Under the circumstances it was a fantastic result," said Stones manager Gordon Bartlett. "There have been many times this season when a draw has felt like a defeat but this was more like a win.
"We've now taken four points off both Staines and Tonbridge, who are second and third in the table respectively, and that shows us we're not that far away."
Bartlett said he had no complaints about the Staines penalty on Saturday but felt the dismissal of Thomas was extreme.
"It was a penalty, but the sending off was a bit harsh," he added. "Luckily, Luke [Woods] was happy to come back from Hitchin Town and, as luck would have it, he ended up playing. I never wanted him to leave in the first place."
The Stones were deprived of Davis Haule for the game and Greg Ngoyi was the lone striker. Meanwhile, Marvin McCoy replaced Carl Martin.
Ngoyi was first to test Wells in the home goal before referee Nigel Lugg dished out the majority of the game's eight yellow cards - four to each side - in a fiery spell late in the first half, which yielded three goals.
Griffiths scored the opener at the far post after 35 minutes but the home side's lead was extinguished immediately when Ashe thumped home as Staines fell asleep at the back.
Thomas then saw red for hacking down Griffiths and top scorer Butler made no mistake with the kick. However, the Stones kept pouring forward despite their numerical disadvantage and won a penalty of their own soon afterwards when Gray was upended. Ashe, as cool as you like, tucked away the kick for a well-deserved point. Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chap-pell, Gray,Massey, Ashe,Forbes (Jones), O'Leary,Ngoyi (Clarke), Hicks, Spendlove (Woods, GK).