National League: Wealdstone 2 Maidstone 1
PUBLISHED: 09:36 01 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:36 01 September 2019
Wealdstone maintained their hold on top spot in National League South after extending their unbeaten home record with victory over Maidstone at The Vale on Saturday.
Fantastic first-half goals from Billy Clifford and Jacob Mendy enabled the Stones to edge a feisty and competitive contest, stretching their winning record to seven out of eight matches.
Maidstone dominated the first quarter of the match, registering their first shot on target within just three minutes, as Dan Wishart struck a low driven effort from the edge of the box prompting Stones' goalkeeper Aston Oxborough to produce a solid save.
Wishart, who had been particularly dangerous for Maidstone on the left, fizzed another effort just past Oxborough's near post on 13 minutes, but the hosts took the lead midway through the half.
It came from a moment of brilliance, as midfielder Clifford's whipped delivery from the corner curled directly into the top of the net.
The goal provided a catalyst for Wealdstone as the pendulum of momentum began to swing in the home side's favour, as they demonstrated more urgency and flair in their attacking play.
On the stroke of half time, Wealdstone doubled their lead in emphatic fashion, through hotshot Mendy.
The attacking midfielder found space on the edge of the box and clinically despatched a fabulous low, driven effort past Maidstone goalkeeper Jake Cole.
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The Stones started the second half in impelling fashion, creating two excellent opportunities within the first six minutes.
Clifford struck a long-range effort which dipped just above the crossbar after a clever one-two with Danny Green, while Ross Lafayette produced a fine point-blank save from Cole, after an acrobatic first-time volley.
In the 60th minute, the home side were tantalisingly close to increasing their lead further as man of the moment Lafayette fed Michee Efete, whose cross found Arnold free in the penalty area.
But his effort was brilliantly blocked by defender Noah Chesmain on the goalline.
As the second half progressed, the Stones continued to dominate proceedings, as Green's lofted free-kick in the 67th minute found Jerome Okimo at the far post, but his diving header fell just wide of the target.
Substitute Jake Sheppard came close to putting the result beyond doubt in the 82nd minute as he latched onto Dennon Lewis' chipped cross and powerfully struck the ball towards the top corner.
However, Maidstone defender Lewis Knight produced a vital header to deny Sheppard his first goal of the season.
Then, against the run of play, the visitors halved the deficit in the 86th minute as Wishart, a persistent threat throughout, fired past Oxborough from close range to set up a tense finale.
In the dying minutes of the match, Maidstone pushed for an equaliser as Ibby Akanbi broke away down the right and drove in a testing cross, but Nick Arnold was on hand to smartly slide the ball clear of danger as Wealdstone weathered the late storm to secure another three points.