True Blue: A Wealdstone fan’s view of the victory over Leiston
PUBLISHED: 11:15 21 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:15 21 October 2013
Wealdstone blogger Nick DuGard looks back on Saturday’s 3-0 triumph at Leiston in the FA Trophy.
As in politics, a week is a long time in football and so it proved for Wealdstone at the weekend, as they travelled to Suffolk for a successful FA Trophy tie against Leiston, having exited the FA Cup the week before.
The Stones famously reached the Trophy semi-finals only two seasons ago, eventually going out 3-1 on aggregate to former Conference side Newport County.
However, Wealdstone did win the FA Trophy in 1985 when they were at their pinnacle and also won the Conference the same season.
When the first qualifying round draw was made at the beginning of the campaign this was certainly not considered a favourable tie against a then improving side in our own league and facing the rigours of a long coach journey away from home.
Since the draw was made however, playing fortunes have fluctuated enormously and the rebuilt Stones have made a solid start to the campaign, and despite the cup horror show at Hornchurch last week there remains cause for much optimism.
Leiston on the other hand are struggling at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier table, so much so that they parted company with their manager Danny Laws after being knocked out at the same stage of the FA Cup. Coming into the match last Saturday the Blues had enjoyed only one victory in eleven outings and remained managerless.
The match itself proved to be a really hard fought battle between two sides looking to restore pride and get back on track. Although Wealdstone eventually overcame the Blues 3-0 this was no straightforward victory but was made all the more satisfying because of it.
It has to be said that Stones sometimes enjoyed the rub of the green on Saturday, whereas last week they were completely out of luck when everything seemed to conspire against them.
Stones defence, without the commanding presence of the injured Wes Parker, coped admirably, with new signing Tom Hamblin doing exceptionally well at centre-half, as did returnee from injury Jerome Okimo.
The match also saw the debut of former Gillingham, Southend and Dagenham midfielder Mark Bentley. Fellow midfielder Elliott Godfrey somehow happily returned from a healed hairline bone fracture and we realised what had been missing in the cup debacle the previous week.
Bentley will need time to gain full match fitness but his experience on the ball was there for all to see.
Stones are gaining a reputation this season for signing ex-professionals and this is part of Manager Gordon Bartlett’s strategy to deal with the play-off near misses of the two previous campaigns – as there is simply no substitute for experience in a hugely tough league, but it will still be combined with the energy and pace of younger players.
So Stones progress to the next round but more importantly can put the horrors of Hornchurch firmly behind them as they get back to facing the rigours of the bread and butter of league football.
This starts again with the visit of Grays Athletic on Saturday (26 October) at The Vale, with kick off 3pm when three points will definitely be the target.
For more information about Wealdstone FC visit www.wealdstone-fc.com
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