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Wealdstone 2 - 1 Harlow Town
Last night, the Stones won three priceless points after coming back from one goal behind to Harlow Town to score two goals from substitute Dean Papali in the last ten minutes of the game. Gordon Bartlett, the Stones manager, decided to play the same line-up that played in the 2-2 draw at Ramsgate except that Jon Nichols played for the injured Ryan Ashe in midfield. Jomo-Faal Thomas who returned to the club after his short spell at St. Albans was on the substitutes bench.
The Stones started poorly and found it difficult to get into their stride. Harlow on the other hand, started much the stronger and in the first forty seconds of the match, forced Daniel Carr in the Stones goal to make a save at the foot of his left-hand post. Three minutes later Harlow should have taken the lead when one of their players who was completely unmarked, headed over the bar.
It was not a surprise when Harlow took the lead in the 16th minute and unfortunately it came from a goalkeeping error from Daniel Carr. A shot from outside the penalty area was not fully gathered by Carr and the ball fell to Raphael Sylvester who shot into the corner of the net. Four minutes later, Harlow should have extended their lead when a cross from the left again found one of their players completely unmarked but the header went wide of the goal.
The Stones only chance from a lack lustre performance in the first half came in the 41st minute when a mistake from a Harlow defender saw the ball fall into the path of James Gray whose shot was blocked by the Harlow keeper.
The Stones went into the half-break, one goal down and it was difficult seeing them scoring. Early in the second half, Carr in the Stones goal made amends for his first half mistake by making two excellent stops but he was saved by his own crossbar in the 59th minute when a defender's mistake led to a Harlow player hitting the bar.
It was obvious that Stones manager, Gordon Bartlett needed to make changes and in the 61st minute he made a triple substitution bringing on Graeme Montgomery, Jomo Faal-Thomas and Dean Papali for Chris O'Leary, Marcus Gross and Stephen Hughes. This seemed to fire the Stones up and gave fresh impetus, and Faal-Thomas immediately started to make some excellent runs down the right-wing.
The game turned in the 71st minute when Harlow defender, Leo Roget was sent off for a second bookable offence. Immediately, the Stones won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and substitute, Montgomery blasted the free-kick just over the bar.With ten minutes to go, the Stones finally equalised when substitute Papali, was tripped in the penalty area and he got up to score the resultant penalty kick himself. The Stones grabbed the winner in the 84th minute when a high ball into the penalty area was blasted across the goal by Montgomery and Papali rushed in to force the ball home from close range. At first it looked like an own-goal but it seemed from the goal celebrations that Papali was claiming his second goal of the night.
The Stones held out for a very important win but other relegation candidates, Tonbridge Angels and Heybridge Swifts also won. However, the win resulted in the Stones moving out of the relegation places to 17th place in the Ryman Premier League with 36 points from 30 matches.
Carr, Yelland, Gross (Sub: 61: Jomo Faal-Thomas), Howell, Bennett, Ncholls, Gray, OLeary (Sub: 61, Graeme Montgomery) Henderson, Hughes (Sub: 61, Dean Papali)Lee Chappell