Kingstonian 0

Wealdstone 1

Whisper it quietly but last night’s win for Wealdstone away to Kingstonian stirred belief it really might be third time lucky this season.

Nothing is won in December of course and with trips to Bognor and Lowestoft to come in the next week, not to mention the visit of Maidstone four days before Christmas more tough games lie ahead, but from the stands of Kingsmeadow last night it was hard to escape the feeling after two play-off disappointments this was a massive win over a fellow contender in the race for this season’s title.

Scott McGleish’s 15th goal of the season settled matters on a night where the tension more than compensated for the lack of genuine goal-scoring chances and where the mist affecting one half of the field, particularly in the first half, added to the sense of sporting theatre.

McGleish stole the headlines with another tireless performance, but there were many heroes in the away yellow shorts of the stones.

Tom Hamblin was a colossus at the heart of the rear-guard alongside Sean Cronin, who put Saturday’s costly gaff behind him to give an assured performance.

James Hammond kept dangerous youngster Charlie Knight, currently on trial at Fulham, quiet in a masterful back four display which kept the hosts to just two clear cut chances all night.

Elliott Godfrey and Glen Little exuded class and discipline in the middle of the park where Luke Pigden had possibly his best game yet and Tom Pett showed flashes of the sort of football which has had the likes of Wycombe and Swindon keeping tabs on him in recent weeks.

Jonny Wright too worked hard in an unfamiliar role on the right-side of midfield,  but arguably the star of the show was left-back Jerome Okimo who continues to blossom in his debut season at the Vale.

Faced with whippet-like winger Charles Ofusu-Hene, Okimo showed great athleticism to maximise his huge stride and blot out Ks’ dasher so effectively he was withdrawn midway through the second half.

The former Chalfont man got forward too, creating his share of problems on the Kingstonian left.

Little replaced Mark Bentley in the only change from Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 home draw with Metropolitan Police and the veteran marshalled the midfield through some testing early minutes when stones saw little possession.

However, the warning signs were there for Kingstonian when McGleish charged down a clearance from the hesitant Rob Tolfrey after 10 minutes, the keeper recovering just in time to block a second stab towards goal away to safety.

The dangerous Andre McCollin saw an excellent shot on the spin safely held by Jonathan North before stones threatened again through Pett’s turn and cross which neither Wright nor McGleish could turn home.

Two chances might have slipped away from the former Wycombe striker, but it was third time lucky on 20 minutes.

A great tackle from Pigden started the move before Pett slid the ball into the path of McGleish who took a touch away from the defender before firing a low shot beyond Tolfrey’s right hand.

As the mist descended the 39-year-old should have had a second when Aaron Goode’s careless pass found him in on goal in acres of space. For once his composure failed him and he lashed a first-time effort well off target.

Another chance went begging for the visitors early in the second half when Little released Wright whose first time ball gave Pett a site goal but he fired off target when he should have done better.

For a while it looked like a costly miss as Kingstonian enjoyed their best spell of the game coming within inches of a leveller on 52 minutes.

Goode’s super slide-rule pass found McCollin in space on the right side of the box and when he slipped the ball beyond North all waited for the net to bulge only for the effort to finish just the wrong side of the far post.

Okimo then did brilliantly to nick a cross from the right off McCollin’s toe and when stones cleared the corner the spell of intense pressure eased.

Stones had chances the kill the game off, McGleish guilty of wasteful finishing, heading wide when unmarked 10 yards out from a delicious Little cross just beyond the hour.

An even better chance came 12 minutes later when the veteran striker was adjudged to have been tripped by Tolfrey, but for once demon penalty taker Cronin saw his effort pushed aside by the Ks No 1.

Inevitably the misses racked up the tension, especially during five minutes of stoppage time, but a last-gasp goalmouth scramble was survived as stones claimed three massive points.

We will have to wait more than four months to see the true value of this win, but dressing-room celebrations at the end were enough to suggest this was not your average three points.