Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Steve Foster

Wealdstone’s Ed­die Oshodi, left, thanks the fans at the club’s fi­nal league game on Satur­day

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