FA Trophy: Wealdstone 2 Royston Town 3
PUBLISHED: 10:01 24 November 2019
Wealdstone made a shock exit from the FA Trophy after BetVictor Southern Premier Central side Royston Town won a thrilling tie at The Vale on Saturday.
A brace from Brandon Adams, accompanied by Josh Castiglione's first-half finish, denied the Stones a place in the first round after Ross Lafayette and Jerome Okimo netted in a brief second-half comeback.
Top scorer Lafayette returned to the Stones line-up for his first start in a month, while the rest of the starting XI remained unchanged following last weekend's defeat at Hampton & Richmond.
The National League South leaders were offered the first golden chance of the afternoon when winger Dennon Lewis was slipped in on goal by Billy Clifford and struck an effort low onto the far post within five minutes.
Early pressure was sustained by Wealdstone as defender Connor Stevens rose highest from Clifford's deep corner, heading the ball goalwards before Royston made the crucial block.
Following early dominance from the home side, it was Royston who took an early lead as Adams leapt to meet Luke Warner-Eley's cross after 11 minutes.
Royston took advantage and began to pile on the pressure, with Adams looking certain to add to his tally when he skipped past Stones goalkeeper Jonathan North before Stevens made a crucial challenge.
Matters got worse for Dean Brennan's men on the half-hour mark, as Castiglione latched onto Matt Bateman's flick-on and rifled a strike into the roof of the net to double Royston's lead.
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Wealdstone were getting overrun in midfield and surrendering the ball to Royston in dangerous areas of the pitch, panicking before the well-needed half-time interval.
Brennan switched the Stones formation at half-time, as forwards Jacob Mendy and Dejon Noel-Williams looked to make an instant impact on the game.
Mendy went on a mazy run down the right and created early danger less than five minutes after coming on, squaring the ball to Noel-Williams who tried to flick the ball goalward with no success.
Wealdstone gained confidence and new signing Jack Jebb came on to make his home debut, making an impact as he pulled the strings behind the front-line.
The pressure on Royston was finally broken on the hour mark, as full-back Michee Efete recovered the ball expertly before laying off to Lewis on the right.
Lewis took on Warner-Eley and found a yard of space for a looping cross which found Lafayette in space inside the penalty area, firing a volley into the net on his return.
The good work by the Stones to halve the deficit could have been undone by Castiglione and Bateman's link-up play.
Bateman flicked Castiglione through and he got past Stones keeper North, who was caught in no man's land, to find Bateman free in the middle in front of an open goal, but midfielder Michael Phillips made an heroic last-ditch tackle.
There was a possibility that this luck was owed to Wealdstone following their FA Cup exit last month and Clifford's corner was punched to Okimo who smashed home the equaliser.
Wealdstone looked the likely winners after that, but their hopes were shattered in dramatic fashion six minutes from time when Royston substitute Claudio Ofosu found a clinical Adams and he made no mistake to fire in the winner, flying the Crows into the first round.