Wealdstone 6 Harrow Borough 0
Wealdstone underlined their dominance over old foes Harrow Borough with a thumping victory that left both managers stunned, but for very contrasting reasons.
Not content with crushing Harrow 5-1 almost a year ago to the day Stones turned on the style to leave them daring to dream of the play-offs and Harrow in the doldrums.
First half goals from Ryan Ashe and makeshift striker James Gray (2) put the hosts in cruise control at a bouncing Grosvenor Vale before an own goal, courtesy of Danny Leech, put the result beyond doubt just three minutes into the second half. Further goals from Lee Chappell and Ryan Ashe put the gloss on a dominant display that delighted Stones boss Gordon Bartlett.
"It's our best win of the season without any shadow of a doubt, " he said. "To beat them 5-1 last year was obviously great and I never thought we would be able to do that again, but we did. I think Harrow had gone eight games unbeaten and we had a bonus in the that Robin Shroot did not play.
"They had the better of it for the first 15 minutes but once we scored we never looked back. We played some very good stuff and some of our finishing was superb. At half time we didn't want to sit back on our laurels as we knew the next goal would be vital. We didn't go into the comfort zone, we went for the jugular."
Bartlett said his players deserve all the credit for the performance and staying focussed on the main aim — three points.
"We didn't prepare for the game any differently," he added. "My team talk centred around us having lost three of our last four games, therefore making Saturday a must win game regardless of who the opposition were."
One thing Bartlett will take the plaudits for, however, is his gamble to thurst centre half James Gray into attack at the expense of youngster Greg Ngoyi. It paid off as the Stones skipper pounced twice to take the man of the match award,
"James is very strong and I decided he would be the right person to play against them up front. Both David Hicks and Greg Ngoyi can both feel very hard done by as they have been playing well enough in recent games to warrant a place in the starting line up."
After their Boxing Day triumph over Harrow last year Wealdstone suffered an alarming slump in form, something that Bartlett is keen to avoid this time around.
"After we beat them last year we ended up going on an awful run — we've got to make sure that does not happen this time around," he commented. "We have to keep our feet firmly on the ground. We've got to continue this form in January and see where it takes us. We've still lost more than we've won so far this season and we've got to change that."
Bartlett added that Harrow may have had a 'bad day at the office' on Saturday but that cut no ice with their manager, David Howell.
"My team were well and truly beaten," he said. "It obviously hurts to lose in this manner especially in a local derby. The nature of the defeat was obviously surprising considering our recent form but we have been here before and it is now about how we respond both as a team and a club.
"I fully understand the implications of Saturday's result and how it impacts on supporters in the area. Maybe some of my new players didn't realise but they do now.
"We now have to pick up points in what looks like a tough January."
Howell has pledged to invigorate his side in the New Year in a bid to get back to winning ways and overcome the loss of Robin Shroot to Birmingham City.
"My team will come out fighting." he said. "We will be looking to build as a team and a club."
They certainly came out fighting on Saturday with Miles Jones and Lee Hall, in for Shroot, looking lively before Leech headed just wide.
However, it was the hosts who took a 17th minute lead when Ashe pulled the trigger from 25 yards that flew past Andray Baptiste.
The celebrations by the majority of the 780 crowd had barely settled when Wealdstone doubled their lead five minutes later. Kieron Forbes went on a probing run before setting up Gray who tucked the ball under Baptiste.
Harrow tried to stem the flow of Stones attacks with some robust challenges in the middle of the park while Kwasi Frempong saw a shot soar just over the bar.
Stones then extended their lead further when a defensive mix up saw Gray sweep up the loose ball before applying the finish,
Harrow boss Howell rang the changes at half time with Jones and Simon Dahl making way for Gary Noel and Jonathan Constant. However, Stones carried on where they left off after the break and Forbes blazed over after another jinking run.
But that was only delaying the inevitable as Chappell's long throw was nodded into his own net by Leech under pressure from Alan Massey.
After Danny McGonigle had gone close for Harrow Chappell then showed he is just as effective from open play with a sublime long range bullet for 5-0 after 56 minutes.
A lesser side would have crumbled but Harrow kept on plugging away only for Wealdstone's water-tight defence to reduce their chances to a premium.
The hosts then put the gloss on their performance with a classy sixth goal that owed as much to its silky build up as it did Ashes' emphatic finish.
Dewayne Clarke and substitute Kurt Morlese were then denied by Stones stopper, Sean Thomas, in the latter stages of the game to complete a thoroughly miserable afternoon for the visitors.
Wealdstone: Thomas, Martin, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Haule, Gray, Spendlove. Subs used: Ngoyi, Hicks, Floweday. Not used: Woods, McCoy.
Harrow Borough: Baptiste, Leech, Dahl (Constant, 45), Walters (cpt), Jinadu, Highton, Frempong, McGonigle, Clarke (Morlese, 83), Jones (Noel, 45), Hall.