Bartlett backs Wealdstone to deliver

WEALDSTONE head into Saturday’s FA Trophy tie against Brackley Town with manager Gordon Bartlett insisting victory could transform his side’s season.

The Stones have made a poor start to the current campaign, winning just four of their first 16 league games and slumping out of the FA Cup to Metropolitan Police in the third qualifying round.

Bartlett admits his team, which narrowly missed out on a play-off spot last year when they finished seventh in the Ryman Premier League, have underachieved, but believes a win against Brackley would ease the pain of their early FA Cup exit and kick-start their season.

“It is obviously very important for our season, going out so early in the FA Cup was disappointing, it isn’t just the financial rewards that a cup run brings with it, it’s the feel-good factor at the club,” said the Stones boss.

“Against Met Police we know we should have beaten them, it was more a case of us underachieving than being beaten by a better side, but I think that’s been the story of our season so far.

“It is disappointing when you consider what our expectations were in pre-season, when we thought we’d drive on this season and do well. I would say we’ve under-achieved with a youthful team.”

Brackley are enduring a tough season themselves in the Zamaretto League Premier Division, with only one home win all season. The Stones have yet to win on the road in the league, but Bartlett believes their battling cup displays and a useful point at Lowestoft on Saturday prove his side are turning the corner.

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“Our away record doesn’t concern me at all. If you start thinking ‘this is our bogey team’ or ‘we’ve never won at that ground’, you create a problem,” added Bartlett.

“I only had to look at the performance against Lowestoft to know our first away win is around the corner.”

The Stones adopted a solid 4-5-1 formation with just Peter Dean up front against Lowestoft, and in a game of few genuine chances they settled for a share of the spoils.

Lowestoft came within inches of taking the lead when Stuart Ainsley burst into the box and hit the post, and then sent the rebound skywards. The hosts always looked the likelier side to score, with an unmarked Greg Crane heading over.

Bartlett introduced striker Scott Fitzgerald in the closing minutes, and the substitute almost stole the points with virtually the last kick, seeing his 20-yard free kick fly just over the bar.