Non-league Christmas round-up: Wealdstone maintain unbeaten run, while Hendon lose for fourth game running against Harrow Borough
PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 December 2016
Wealdstone extended their unbeaten run to three games in the National League South - and seven in all competitions - as they secured an impressive win against table toppers Maidenhead United on Boxing Day.
Gordon Bartlett’s men cemented their top-half position with a morale-boosting victory over the runaway leaders, and keep alive their play-off ambition heading into the new year.
In truth United appeared to suffer a Christmas hangover, struggling to deal with the high expectations placed upon their shoulders, and while the hosts rode their luck at times they stuck to their task admirably, especially after United’s top scorer Dave Tarpey equalised from the penalty spot in an absorbing second-half.
In front of a bumper crowd of 1100 it was Stones midfielder Elliott Godfrey who had all the all-important say on the game though, sending Stones fans home happy with the winner 12 minutes from time.
Stones had to again reshuffle their defensive line-up for this Boxing Day clash, with Josh Urquhart having undergone an operation on his knee; in came the experienced David Hunt filling in at centre-half alongside the versatile Eddie Oshodi.
After an even start in the early exchanges, Stones gradually grew into the game and began to control proceedings, as they began to get their passing game finding some gaps in the Magpies back line.
Matty Whichelow went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 19 minutes with a decent drive, but the away side soon hit back with Tarpey blazing over when well placed inside the box.
Stones were gaining the upper hand, but at the same were being caught offside on too many occasions.
But they did made the all-important breakthrough four minutes before the break.
Ciaron Brown got free on the left and his smart low cross was turned in by the Stones’ fox in the box Elliot Benyon, who notched his 15th league goal of the campaign to date in what has been a brilliant start to his Stones career.
The Magpies should have levelled up almost immediately after the interval, but Kieron Forbes strike was straight at Jon North.
Tarpey wasted another opportunity to get his side back on level terms, with another bad miss with the goal glaring on 59 minutes.
But the complexion of the contest changed when Eddie Oshodi brought down the industrious Forbes in the area and Tarpey made no mistake this time - dispatching his penalty clinically past North for the equaliser.
Stones stuck to their guns though and pushed on with Elliott Godfrey outstanding midfield chasing down everything with Ricky Wellard, while Whichelow was causing problems for the visitors with his mazy runs on the wing.
And it was Godfrey that grabbed the all-important winner, with the ball falling to him just outside the box from a inswinging Wellard free-kick and he made no mistake brilliantly toe poking the ball past Carl Pentney into the top corner.
The reliable North again saved well from Tarpey, but Stones comfortably held on for an important win and keep their unbeaten record in tact.
The pair will not have to wait long to meet again, with Bartlett’s men travelling to Maidenhead for the return fixture on New Year’s Day (Sunday) at 3pm.
- Hendon and Harrow Borough marked the anniversary of their memorable 5-5 draw with another festive cracker on Boxing Day.
On December 26 2015 the Dons let a 4-1 lead slip as they were held to a draw by their local rivals in a 10-goal thriller – and exactly one year later the two sides treated their fans to another Christmas goal-fest, with Borough this time triumphing 5-4 at Silver Jubilee Park.
While the entertainment factor may have been a consolation for some of the home fans, manager Gary McCann will nonetheless be dismayed by the fact that his Hendon side have now conceded 14 goals in three games, following their 4-0 and 5-2 defeats to Grays Athletic and Needham Market respectively.
Indeed, the Greens have lost their last four matches in a row, leaving them in the bottom three places, four points off the foot of the table.
There were seven goals in the first half of Monday’s encounter alone. Hendon came from behind to equalise on three occasions – Dave Diedhou, Sam Murphy and Casey Maclaren scoring their goals – before Reis Stanislaus put the hosts ahead for the first time, sending the Dons into the break 4-3 up.
However, Joshua Webb levelled from the penalty spot five minutes after the restart, and Sahr Kabba then netted a 73rd-minute winner for Borough.
Greens boss McCann said on the result: “The willingness and effort is there, but too much else is missing.
“We must be better and strengthen the squad with diligence.
“There’s no doubt with a very tough four months ahead of us, but I won’t shy away - that’s for sure.”
While pleased his side had come out on the right side of the nine-goal thriller, Borough boss Steve Baker admits there are plenty of improvements to make.
“We were great going forward, but not too clever the other way - so that’s something we must address as a squad. It was a vitally important result for us, and one we needed,” he said.
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