RYMAN PREMIER LEAGUE: Wealdstone 2 Harrow Borough 0
WEALDSTONE’S march to the Ryman League Premier Division playoffs gathered pace as they claimed bragging rights in yesterday’s Easter Monday derby with Harrow Borough.
A Sean Cronin header and an own goal by Borough’s Danny Leech secured Gordon Bartlett’s side a routine 2-0 win over the men of Earlsmead, meaning they emerged from a punishing four games in six days with 10 points in their swag bag.
It’s a haul which keeps them top of the pile in the jockeying for position ahead of the end of season knockout lottery.
By contrast, defeat for Dave Anderson’s Borough leaves them still casting an anxious look over their shoulder at the relegation zone ahead of the final run-in.
Stones made three changes to Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wingate & Finchley with Jonathan North preferred to Rikki Banks in goal, Kurtney Brooks stepping in for Alex Dyer and Scott McGleish returning up front in place of the ill Peter Dean.
Borough for their part started with James Regis at right back, while Saheed Sankoh was restored to the midfield with Michael Barima and Ola Williams dropping to the bench to make way.
Stones began with Tom Pett playing in a three-man front line alongside Richard Jolly and McGleish and the latter had the first chance of the game, glancing a header wide following a cross from Lee Chappell
Richard Jolly also saw a shot blocked by the towering Peacock, while Borough’s best early opening fell to Charles Ofusu-Hene who capitalized on a slip from James Hammond to race to the left edge of the area before firing across the goal and wide.
Wealdstone were forced into an early change as Scott McCubbin, injured in the first few minutes had to limp off to be replaced by Esmond James.
Play became scrappy, before Brooks fed off a knockdown from Pett to release a low shot from 20 yards which Ross Fitzsimons dived to save.
Trying to make the most of the slope the hosts threatened again when the tireless Chappell launched another foray down the left, exchanging passes with McGleish and setting up Pett for a shot held by Fitzsimons.
It was then Borough’s turn to be disrupted by injuries as just beyond the half hour both Ofusu-Hene and Rob Wolleaston hobbled off to be replaced by Michael Barima and Ola Williams.
Whether it was the shake-up which disturbed the visitors’ concentration or not Wealdstone grabbed the advantage on 38 minutes.
Chappell put an in-swinging corner all the way to the far post where Cronin escaped his marker to head home just inside the post. The goal stood despite protests keeper Fitzsimons had been fouled.
The lead was doubled six minutes later when the striker turned provider with a cross from the right which rocketed past Fitzsimons via the head of Danny Leech.
It was the third year running the Borough stalwart had scored at the wrong end in the derby.
The first half lacked the intensity of a derby, but three minutes after the restart Akinola was lucky to escape without a card for a high foot on Wes Parker.
With the slope to help them Borough looked to reduce the deficit, but Peacock’s venomous 20-yard drive was just off target.
Pett drove over at the other end, before being the subject of an industrial challenge from Jordan Berry, for which the former Plymouth man saw yellow.
Pett was soon jinking into the box again just before the hour to float in a cross for Jolly to tap home what he thought was a killer third, but celebrations were cut short by an assistant’s flag.
Anderson’s final gamble saw Paul Olima emerge from the bench for the last 20 minutes, but Borough failed to capitalize on the few chances they made, Peacock tamely heading over from Lucien’s excellent cross.
McGleish should have sealed things with 12 minutes left, but ballooned the ball over from a pull-back by Webb and the substitute then saw his cross shot hacked over his own crossbar by Peacock.
They came closest in stoppage time when a corner from the right came off the back of Cronin’s head and needed Brooks to kick it off the line at the far post, but by then it was all too late.