AFC Hornchurch 1
Wealdstone went top of the Ryman Premier League on Tuesday evening, after they faced their toughest test of the season so far when they travelled into Essex to face bogey side AFC Hornchurch.
Since Hornchurch reformed as a club Stones have never won a game at Bridge Avenue. And that bad fortune continued in agonising, but possibly inevitable, fashion when a speculative deflected shot in the 96th minute from Ade Yusuff cancelled out Chris Moore’s delightful goal after 10 minutes play.
Stones certainly deserved to emerge from this hard fought clash with a win as they dominated play for long periods with Glen Little again hugely influential in the midfield and another solid all round team performance. But a combination of second half changes, unpunished challenges and an inexplicable two minutes added time over the allotted four cost Stones dearly. Stones will also rue several missed opportunities but this was always going to be a game where they would be under some pressure with the away side’s long ball bombardment.
And in a typically bruising encounter with a robust and direct Urchins side Stones will also be concerned over a mounting injury list as Wes Parker, Glen Little and Tom Pett had to be replaced in the second period.
After Hornchurch ‘keeper Inigo Echepare had saved from an early Jey Siva free kick Stones took the lead. Chris Moore beat two defenders and curled a wonderful strike into the top corner from the edge of the box for his 6th goal of the campaign.
Stones continued to look sharp with Little pulling the strings their forwards looked likely to find more opportunities and Tom Pett, as lively as ever, put a strike over the bar. The home side looked to hit on the break with their route one tactics and the Stones defence had to be alert to clear off the line on 24 minutes.
Pett was continually proving to a thorn in the side of a physical defence but when he was brought down the free kick from Stefan Bailey could only smash harmlessly into the Urchins wall.
The half ended with Moore again going close with his effort being saved by Echepare.
Wes Parker was replaced by the youthful Orlando Rodrigues as matters ratcheted up and both sides came under pressure. Little went on a now trade mark run that oozed class beating several defenders all ends up but he couldn’t find the net via Pett. The former Burnley and Wrexham man was on the receiving end of a typically robust challenge that signalled the end of his match and he was replaced by Adam Martin with 25 minutes to go.
With Little out of the frame the home side sensed a change in momentum and upped their tempo with Stones now less proactive going forward.
As tension mounted the referee incurred the displeasure of Stones players and large away support with some controversial decisions and Stones chances to seal the game came and went. But with the clock running down it seemed that a rare victory was in sight as Stones held on.
It wasn’t to be as one last foray up into Stones territory by the Urchins brought reward in the sixth minute of added time with a devastating deflection beat Jonathan North. And then the whistle blew.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Siva, Parker, Cronin, Godfrey, Little, Bailey, McGleish, Moore, Pett. Subs used: Martin, Rodrigues, Hutchinson. N/u: Grant. Dean.
Attendance: 251 (100 Wealdstone)