National League: Oxford City 3 Wealdstone 2
PUBLISHED: 10:38 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:38 05 January 2020
Wealdstone were denied a second-half comeback as hardworking Oxford City had the final say at Marsh Lane on Saturday afternoon.
Oxford goals from Joe Oastler and Elliot Benyon either side of half-time left the table-toppers two goals behind.
But Jacob Mendy and Adam Coombes' quickfire finishes bought the Stones level before Finn Tapp's header sealed the three points for the Hoops.
Stones manager Dean Brennan kept the same side that had beaten Slough Town on New Year's Day after Luton Town extended the loan of goalkeeper Harry Isted.
But the hosts forced a save out of Isted within the first two minutes, as Kevin Berkoe struck a low left-footed strike towards the near post and the former Oxford loanee made a strong stop.
Both sides were working each other out throughout the first half, with the tempo of the game slower than the standard that Wealdstone fans have been used to from their side this season.
The main chance for the Stones in the first half fell to top scorer Ross Lafayette, who curled wide after Billy Clifford brought the ball down in the penalty area.
Wealdstone full-back Michee Efete injured his ankle and was substituted after half-an-hour with midfielder Ashley Charles brought on by Brennan as Michael Phillips dropped into right-back.
Oxford held the Stones well and sat back before striking on the stroke of half-time, with Zac McEachran's outswinging corner meeting the head of captain Oastler to give them the lead at the break.
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There was still hope for the Stones entering the second half before Benyon's moment of individual brilliance as he struck low from the edge of the box to double Oxford's lead two minutes after the restart.
Wealdstone needed to find some similar brilliance to get back into the game, with Oxford United loanee goalkeeper Max Harris untested throughout the first half.
An opportunity for set-piece specialist Jack Jebb to provide it arose from 25 yards, but his free-kick lacked power and went straight into the Oxford wall.
Jebb was replaced by Coombes as Brennan's side began to send more direct passes towards their wingers and two strikers.
And the change paid off straight away as Mendy fired in a half-volley from Clifford's lofted through ball into the box to get the Stones back into the game on the hour mark.
It was double delight for the leaders as the game was turned on its head when Coombes rose highest at the near post to net his first goal for the Stones and put Brennan's men on level terms.
The momentum had shifted towards the away side but Oxford came back stronger from the setback, as Kyran Lofthouse burst down the right channel and forced Isted to push his strike onto the near post for a corner.
And before the Stones knew it, they had gone behind again as the resulting corner was sent in again by McEachran and clinically headed into the top corner by Tapp.
Wealdstone would not go down fighting as Coombes and Dennon Lewis both saw chances go begging in the final 10 minutes.
Substitute and former Stone Stefan Brown had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Sunny Gill in stoppage time but the damage was already done as Wealdstone dropped more points on the road.
The Stones' lead at the top of the National League South is now cut to four points and have they not won away from home since October 2019.
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