FA Cup defeat ranks among one of the most 'gutting' for Wealdstone
- Credit: Jon Taffel
I wrote last week that Wealdstone’s record in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round has been pretty dismal and I have witnessed most of these games, including some occasional glorious high points, over the past four decades of supporting the Stones.
Sadly the 2-1 Cup demise at The Vale on Saturday versus highly fancied league rivals Dagenham & Redbridge must rank highly as one of the most gutting.
As ever, its not so much the defeat, disappointing as that always is, it’s the manner of it – particularly so when you reflect on what transpired over the 90 minutes.
As fans, we are not tactical experts or professional football pundits - we see what we see and form opinions. That’s what it’s all about, supporting your team, good, bad or indifferent.
Daggers were a man down, Paul McCallum sent off after barely two minutes of play. Stones took a first half lead through a well taken goal from Jay Bird.
Second half, still 1-0 up, Stones keeper Wickens brilliantly saved a penalty on 69 minutes but now under increasing pressure, as you would expect from a top National League side, but "all good" we thought.
We were wrong. Two, late, late goals sealed Stones fate. For some inexplicable tactical reason, the Stones players, or rather the management team, again persisted in their belief in a playing system and process that for many onlookers invited continual pressure and with it little opportunity to attack or create chances to sew up the tie from a winning advantage.
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I applaud the management team for sticking to what they believe is a system that fits the squad - but not effectively adapting that style and shape when required is, in my view, a recipe for a poor outcome.
Saturday could be a watershed moment in an already tough but fascinating season for Wealdstone.
Perhaps even more so next weekend when Stones travel to fellow strugglers Weymouth and then entertain current top of the table and newly relegated EFL side Grimsby Town the following Tuesday at The Vale.
We all want success for Wealdstone, however relative that is in such an unforgiving football environment and we all want this management team to get through this difficult period.
Some flexibility in tactics, though, must surely be on the agenda at the training ground.