Wealdstone 1

Hampton & Richmond Borough 3

Wealdstone suffered only a second league defeat of the season on Saturday as they fell prey to the goal machine that is Charlie Moone (pictured).

Hampton & Richmond’s in-form marksman made it 27 for the season with his team’s vital second goal in first half stoppage time as the Beavers followed up Boxing Day’s thrashing of Kingstonian with a second win in 48 hours against one of the title favourites.

Stones, who led 1-0 thanks to Sean Cronin’s penalty, will argue Hampton keeper Rodney Chiweshe should have been dismissed for handball with the score at 1-1, still lead the table as the season reaches the midway point.

They will reflect on chances which went astray and poor defending on Hampton’ first two goals which left them chasing the game up the slope in the second half, but this blip should be no cause for blood-letting by Stones’ passionate fans who must rally behind their side in readiness for the New Year’s Day derby with Harrow Borough.

For their part, Hampton, now 13th, still have plenty to do if they are to mount a credible play-off challenge, but this purple patch will up the anti and expectation amongst fans at the Beveree.

Stones showed just one change from the Boxing Day win at Enfield, Glen Little returning in place of Scott McCubbin who dropped to the bench, while there were three changes for Hampton, Darren Powell, Tom Hickey and James Simmonds replacing Bradley Simmonds, Karle Carder and Billy Jeffreys respectively.

The hosts, with Jonny Wright prominent, began brightly, Tom Pett’s right-wing cross just evading the lurking Scott McGleish, while Little shot weakly at Chiweshe.

Ex-Burnley and Reading man Little suffered a mixed day, picking up a booking in the 13th minute after being caught in possession and bundling over Simmonds, Luke Wanadio forcing Jonathan North into a sprawling save from the resulting free-kick.

The veteran midfielder soon recovered from the blip, showing good footwork in the box on 20 minutes, in a move which saw Cronin volley over from 15 yards out.

The chance for a breakthrough for Stones came on 25 minutes when Wanadio mistimed a challenge on Pett and Cronin thumped home from the spot.

Wealdstone threatened a second three minutes later as Little’s delicious ball sent Pett galloping down the right, but Powell was just big enough to get a touch on the cross with McGleish poised to pounce.

The Beavers’ player-manager was involved at the other end 60 seconds later, forcing North to tip over his header from a free-kick, but the whistle had already gone.

Little was dominating proceedings at this stage, spraying the ball around, one delivery to the feet of McGleish on 34 minutes seeing the veteran striker chip wide.

However, a minute later Hampton drew level as the Stones’ defence slept after the giving of a free-kick allowing Moone  to escape down the right and when his cross was back-heeled by Simmonds into the path of Tom Hickey he drove the ball home off the inside of the post.

Massive controversy followed on 41 minutes as Wright burst clear and Chiweshe handled outside the box.

Furious protests from home players and fans alike followed but referee Gillett, apparently unsighted gave nothing.

Undeterred Stones created another opening a minute from the break as Pett somehow reached a ball down the right and though all missed the initial cross the ball was recycled to Jerome Okimo whose powerful strike produced a flying save from Chiweshe with no-one to gobble up the rebound.

The lack of a red card was a hugely significant moment though and perhaps Stones were still feeling aggrieved when they suffered another self-inflicted wound in first half stoppage time.

The excellent Joe Turner was too strong for James Hammond down the left and when his pass inside found Moone in acres of space he made the hosts pay, as he arrowed a shot into the corner.

Facing a test of character Stones came out fighting, Luke Pigden hitting the outside of a post from a 51st minute corner, while Powell’s vital interception a minute later stopped McGleish’s attempt to release Pett.

Bradley Simmonds replaced Wanadio with 10 minutes of the half played, but Stones continued to force the issue as Little’s free-kick on 62 minutes deflected off one of his own players and finished just the wrong side of the post.

Pett then slipped in McGleish for a low drive superbly parried to safety by Chiweshe, before Wright’s shot deflected behind. The resulting corner saw Wright first to react once more only for his shot to be cleared off the line.

Stones boss Gordon Bartlett gambled late on sending on Peter Dean, Jey Siva and Bobson Bawling in quick succession and reverting to three at the back and the punt nearly paid off with 12 minutes left.

Pett was tumbled just outside the box and Pigden’s delivery found McGleish in acre of space only for the leading scorer to head wide with the goal gaping.

It proved a last hurrah by the hosts as after Moone forced a fine save from North, Hampton settled it with seven minutes left when Turner finished a rapier-like counter-attack with a sweet finish into the bottom corner.