Feb 25 2013 By Jon Weadlstone
RYMAN PREMIER LEAGUE
GROUCHO Marx is widely credited with the saying ‘I’ve had a wonderful evening but this wasn’t it.’
The hardy souls who braved the freezing temperatures to watch a dismal goalless draw between two of the Ryman Leagues in-form clubs on Saturday afternoon might well have been in sympathy with the legendary satirist.
Hendon had won eight of their last 10 matches and Wealdstone all their last three including hitting Lewes for six on Monday.
However, this clash did not scale any heights, but Wealdstone left the happier for picking up a hard earned point on the road which keeps them top of the playoff pile.
Stones named an unchanged starting XI after four-goal man from Monday’s rout Peter Dean passed a late fitness test on a back niggle, while the hosts only change from their midweek win over Bury saw Sean Thomas replace Mo Maan between the posts.
There was an early warning sign for the visitors when Junior Morias rolled Scott McCubbin who had got too tight, but Tom Pett got back well to cover.
A sterile opening was only enlivened by a flashpoint midway through the half.
Esmond James was fouled just beyond halfway and Scott Cousins kicked the ball into the Stones player while he was prone on the ground. A scuffle developed, but the referee had clocked offender Cousins who was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card.
Minutes later Morias and Cronin were both in the book as well before Hendon came within a whisker of snatching the lead when a corner from the right caused chaos in the Stones’ defence with one toe poked effort appearing to strike a post before being scrambled clear.
As the pressure continued, Rikki Banks needed to be at his sharpest to turn aside Dean Cracknell’s stinging effort, Casey Maclaren heading just over from the resulting corner.
The pattern resumed early in the second half with Stones penned in, but James fired narrowly over in a rare raid to the other end.
Alex Dyer finally registered a shot on target for the visitors as we ticked up to the hour and James too skipped into the box to fire another low shot at Thomas as the visitors enjoyed their best spell to date.
However, on 64 minutes Belal Aite-Ouakrim combined with Morias to give the Greens a clear sight of goal and it needed Banks to parry the latter’s rising shot over the crossbar.
The closest Stones came was on 68 minutes when after a rare contested dropped ball Dean raced through but Thomas was brave and fisted clear from the striker’s outstretched boot.
Hendon too might have snatched it in stoppage-time when the ball found its way to Cracknell following a move down the right, but he volleyed straight at Banks and the points were shared.