Wealdstone 2 Cray 0
THE OLDEST strike partnership in the Ryman League was on song as Wealdstone got their playoff campaign back on track against Cray at a rain-soaked Grosvenor Vale on Saturday.
Scott McGleish (39) and 33-year-old Chris Moore bagged a goal apiece as Stones banished memories of Tuesday’s 3-2 home defeat by Bury with victory over the relegation-haunted Wands.
With their principal rivals in the race for runners up spot Lowestoft and Concord both unexpectedly losing at home, Stones’ victory moved them to second place.
And another win away at Hampton & Richmond on Thursday will guarantee Gordon Bartlett’s men a spot in the end of season knockout stages.
Bartlett’s side showed three changes from Tuesday’s home defeat to Bury Town.
Sean Cronin was omitted from the 16 altogether on the last day where a 10th booking of the campaign would rule him out of the playoffs, while Rikki Banks and Chris O’Leary were restored to the starting line-up in place of Jonathan North and Kurtney Brooks. Scott McCubbin was back on the bench after injury.
Stones began slowly and only a last-ditch tackle by Wes Parker denied the visitors a seventh minute lead.
However, Banks claimed the resulting corner and his long punt set McGleish running free and he held off the cover to slot passed Andy Walker.
Stefan Bailey was almost put through by good work from Moore and McGleish, but at the other end Banks had to be alert to field a long-range effort from Michael Power.
Stones looked comfortable until a 31st minute ball over the top saw Parker tangle with Leigh Bremner and referee Jonathan Burridge pointed to the spot.
The striker picked himself only to hit a weak penalty which almost squirmed underneath Banks only for him to gather at the second attempt.
Despite the let off Stones continued to look jittery and Michael Power headed another free-kick narrowly over on 34 minutes.
Moore, whose hold up play had been excellent then wasted a good chance for a second for Stones with a free header well over the bar.
The former Brentford striker had another opportunity four minutes from the break, but his effort was repelled by Walker. The rebound did not drop for Pett and even when the ball was recycled O’Leary’s shot from the edge was deflected behind.
Bailey then tested Walker from an acute angle in what was his last contribution, McCubbin replacing him at the break.
Alex Stavriou produced Cray’s best effort yet with a flashing drive across goal three minutes after the restart and another last-ditch challenge from Moore back helping his defence just before the hour preserved the lead.
The crucial second arrived with 20 minutes left. A Chappell corner was only half cleared and when James Hammond pumped the ball back in Parker flicked on for Moore who finished expertly, sliding the ball under the advancing Walker.
Chappell forced a super tip over from Walker as Stones looked for a third and the veteran keeper was at his best again with seven minutes left, clawing a Moore drive behind.
The third goal didn’t come and three minutes from time the hosts survived a big double scare as Chris Saunders’ fierce shot produced a fine save from Banks and in the scramble which followed an effort to force in the rebound was cleared off the line.
As play switched to the other end Dean’ss long cross was headed back across by McGleish for Moore whose back-heel was hacked to safety.
Walker denied Chappell once more in added time, but the hard work for Bartlett’s men had been done.