Wealdstone 2 - Uxbridge     2

The best news for Wealdstone came off the pitch on Tuesday night despite a rare penalty shoot-out success in this cup tie with near neighbours Uxbridge.

Shortly after former stone Wayne Carter had seen his final penalty saved by debutant Luke Bartlett, stones’ boss Gordon Bartlett – no relation – emerged to confirm striker Scott McGleish was staying at the club after failing in his bid to land the manager’s job at Enfield.

The former Wycombe front-man’s day in the dugout will come, probably sooner rather than later. However, while careful not to glory in McGleish’s disappointment at losing out to George Borg in the race for the job at the north London club, Bartlett must secretly be thrilled to have kept his leading scorer ahead of a punishing pre-Christmas and New Year schedule which will see his side face 10 crucial league games in 30 days.

He said: “We have always known Scott would at some stage want to move on into management, but he hasn’t got the job and he remains with us.”

On the field, Bartlett’s need of McGleish was amply illustrated as for the second midweek running fringe players given a chance to audition for a spot in the promotion push suffered a severe case of stage fright. Bartlett signalled his intent to protect legs for the tough schedule ahead by making seven changes from Saturday’s win at Dulwich with only James Hammond, Sean Cronin, Jerome Okimo and Luke Pigden keeping their places.

The shake-up gave Reece Grant a rare start up front alongside Chris Moore, turning out against his former club. Reds’ boss Tony Choules also used the tie to ring the changes with recalls for Mark Dennison, Chris Drake, Will Wambeek, Ola Kukoyi and Matt Elston-Bull The spate of changes made for a disjointed opening, meaning a flashpoint where Dennison was lucky to escape punishment for fouling Grant not once but twice midway through the half was the first real incident of note.

The visitors had the few chances which were created, Ola Kukoyi curling one effort narrowly wide and Cronin clearing a teasing Drake cross behind for a corner. However, it needed an incident which would not have been out of place in a Christmas pantomime to break the deadlock – one former Millwall trainee Bartlett will have nightmares over. Under no pressure his woeful clearance left his defence flat footed, though the reds’ nearest attacker Kukoyi seemed oblivious of the opportunity with his back to the action and jogging back towards the half-way line.

However, in response to pleas from team-mates that the ball was ‘behind you’ the youngster turned, took two strides forward and drove the ball home. We were in stoppage time by the time stones managed a shot on target in response when reds’ keeper Elston-Bull flapped a cross straight to Mark Bentley, whose lobbed attempt was headed off the line.

There was more urgency from the hosts after the break, but Uxbridge were close to going 2-0 up on 52 minutes when a swift counter attack ended with Craig Tomkins firing a cross-shot wide of the far post with Bartlett beaten. Stones stirred themselves on the hour with their first quality move of the night ending in a devilish cross from Hammond which begged to be finished off, only for Grant and Pigden to get in each other’s way meaning the chance was gone.

Pigden then struck a free-kick straight into the hands of Elston-Bull while Moore failed to pull down the pass of the night from Okimo with 25 minutes to play. The pressure told with 16 minutes left as a ball was only half cleared to Pigden in acres of space 25 yards out and the former Carshalton man who scored his first for the club in Saturday’s win at Dulwich obliged with a sweet strike into the bottom corner.

The flow of the game was now with Stones, but Dean’s low free-kick five minutes later found no-one to apply a final touch, meaning an extra 30 minutes was added to everyone’s shift. Stones struck seven minutes in with the best goal of the night as Bailey teased Wallace down the right before delivering the perfect cross for Moore to flick passed Elston-Bull However the lead lasted just four minutes before Dave Thomas restored parity with a close range header from Craig Tomkins’ excellent free-kick delivery.

Kukoyi came closest to a winner with his cross-shot inches wide, before the final whistle meant a penalty shoot-out. Reds’ substitute Tom Kannock saw his first kick saved by Bartlett, but Pigden levelled matters again when his effort was pushed away by Elston-Bull.

With the score 4-3 in Wealdstone’s favour Carter had the chance to take us to sudden-death, but his effort lacked conviction allowing Bartlett to emerge the hero for one night at least.