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Havant & Waterlooville 1 Wealdstone 0: Stones come up short in bid to tame Hawks

PUBLISHED: 09:12 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:12 14 March 2018

Wealdstone manager Bobby Wilkinson (pic: Steve Foster/Wealdstone FC)

Wealdstone manager Bobby Wilkinson (pic: Steve Foster/Wealdstone FC)

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Vanarama National League South: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Wealdstone 0

Wealdstone left West Leigh Park feeling very hard done by after they were defeated 1-0 by Havant & Waterlooville, who move four points clear at the top of the Vanarama National League South.

Sub Alfie Rutherford scored the only goal of the game nine minutes from time with a rare chance for the hosts, as Wealdstone nullified the league leaders all evening.

Stones boss Bobby Wilkinson raised a few eyebrows with his team selection at the ground with many fans in the stadium feeling the team had one eye on Saturday’s FA Trophy semi-final against Brackley Town; the performance, however, demonstrated that scenario couldn’t have been any further from the truth.

Debuts were handed to Reading loanee Jake Sheppard and second-choice keeper Ravan Constable, while Stephane Ngamvoulou was also back in the starting line-up after his loan at Burgess Hill Town had came to an end.

Jonathan North missed his first game of the season and Jerome Okimo and Bradley Bubb dropped to the bench, with Danny Green missing out completely due to injury.

With eight changes in total from the side that drew 2-2 at Braintree on Saturday, Wilkinson opted for a 3-4-3 formation which the hosts struggled to break down.

In fact both sides spent much of the first half cancelling each other out although the best chance of the half fell to debutant Sheppard who cut inside and hit a tame effort at Ryan Young from the edge of the box.

But the Stones upped the tempo in the second half and took the game to the hosts. Dan Fitchett had strong penalty appeals waved away just seconds after the restart.

Sheppard’s free kick on 55 minutes was spilt by Young and fell kindly for Eddie Oshodi, but he shot the rebound wide from a tight angle.

The word world class is often overused in football, but Young’s point blank save to deny Mustafa Tiryaki heading in Sheppard’s crossing free kick was just that.

Tiryaki hit a trademark powerful header just yards away from the keeper and with the ball heading for the top corner the stopper reacted instantaneously and somehow tipped it onto the crossbar.

The Turkish forward had another chance to put his name on the scoresheet after Sam Cox’s deflected effort caused pinball in the area, the ball bounced up, but he struck it wide on the half volley.

On 81 minutes the Football gods conspired against Wealdstone as Havant scored with their only effort on goal in the games entirety.

Oshodi went down in the area with the referee waving appeals away, the Hawks broke up the other end and Wes Fogden’s initial effort was well stopped by Constable, but Rutherford followed it up to cue joyous celebrations in the home end.

Stones did have a response in injury time. Bubb’s cross was met by David Pratt at the front post, but Young again made another save from close range to tip his header over the bar.

The visitors remain in twelfth just five points off the play-offs, but all attention now focuses to the FA Trophy Semi-Finals against Brackley Town. Stones play the away leg this Saturday with the return fixture a week after at Grosvenor Vale on March 24.

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