STONES SEASON ENDS IN DRAMA
WEALDSTONE finished a bewildering week – and a season which might have offered more – with a stalemate in Essex before being beaten in the Middlesex Cup final.
The Vanarama South point saw them finish eighth after several days of drama off the pitch.
Wealdstone started the week with a chance of benefiting from a ground-grading board decision that neither Poole Town – who finished in the final play-off spot – nor sixth-placed Hungerford Town could be promoted, having insufficient seats.
But the FA, answering an appeal by all three clubs, also decreed improvement work by the Stones to upgrade their facilities had missed the March 31 deadline and they too were ineligible for promo- tion. As it was, Gordon Bartlett’s side were unable to overhaul Hampton & Richmond, who beat Concord Rangers 1-0 to secure seventh place and a play-off semifinal against Ebbsfleet United this week.
Eighth spot however, at least marked the Stones’ highest finish since promotion.
Against an East Thurrock side who had lost only one of 20 games, it might have been a winning finish for Wealdstone but for Joe White having a penalty saved in the second half to leave it 1-1.
Opportunities in a patchy first half at Rookery Hill fell more often to the hosts – which was not saying much – although White had a header tipped away by goalkeeper Lukas Lidakevicius on 23 minutes and Ciaron Brown had an effort cleared off the line. Thurrock took their opportunity to go in front, skipper Sam Huggins using his wits to take a free-kick quickly and set up Kye Ruel for a smart finish.
Wealdstone were level 11 minutes later, Matt Whichelow finding Sam Cox on the edge of the box and – instead of opening up as expected – he threaded through a pass for White to slot in.
Tom Wraight might have extended his record as top-scorer for the Stones early in the second hyalf only to blaze over and on 55 minutes, Dan Fitchett turned Ryan Sammons in the Thurrock box only to be tripped by the rightback. White hit the penalty at a perfect height for Lidakevicius.
There was more grave disap- pointment for Wealdstone on Bank Holiday Monday when they were beaten 2-1 in the Middlesex Senior Cup final.
Conceding a penalty just 10 seconds into the game set the tone, Alex Fisher converting after Dan Fleming was upended by Brown.
Fleming added the second on 31 minutes, latching on to a long ball and outpacing Tom Hamblin.
The Stones almost pulled one back just before half time, Danny Green hitting the crossbar with a free-kick from 25 yards. Eddie Oshodi crossed to the unmarked Ricky Wellard to score against his old club and offer the Stones a lifeline and Fitchett had what he thought was the equaliser ruled out for a foul after 72 minutes as Ashford lifted the trophy.
Wealdstone’s Eddie Oshodi, left, thanks the fans at the club’s final league game on Saturday