Feb 15 2012 By Jon Batham
Dartford 2-2 Wealdstone
WEALDSTONE’s romance with the FA Trophy was kept alive on Valentine’s night thanks to Chris O’Leary’s late leveller at blue Square South title chasers Dartford.
The Stones midfield enforcer produced a bullet header with 10 minutes left, which flew in with the speed and accuracy of Cupid’s arrow to cap a man of the match performance and earn Gordon Bartlett’s men a deserved third round replay at The Vale next Tuesday night.
It was just reward for the visitors, who overcame the loss of Wes Parker at half-time to a recurrence of his knee injury to come from behind twice and keep hopes of an away trip to either Cambridge or Guiseley in the quarter-final.
The home side were handicapped by the loss of Elliott Bradbrook to injury after just six minutes and they survived a scare when keeper Louis Wells got the ball stuck under his feet before scrambling it clear as Richard Jolly closed in.
Then it was Jonathan North’s turn to suffer a nervous moment as his mishit clearance left the goal open, but Lee Noble’s attempt to embarrass the Stones No 1 from 40 yards out dropped just wide.
Peter Dean twice went close with shots for Stones, before disaster struck on 31 minutes.
A long punt from Wells saw debutant Tommie Hoban back head the ball and when Parker and North got in a mess, Jacob Erskine stole possession away and though his shot was blocked Danny Harris followed up to score.
With the visitors rocking, Jon Wallis fired over from the edge of the box, but Stones stunned the hosts with an equaliser in first-half stoppage time.
Connor Smith found Scott McCubbin, who delivered to the back post and when O’Leary headed back into the danger area, Jolly pounced to head home his 29th of the season.
Parker did not appear after the interval and barely had Stones had the chance to reshuffle when they were behind again thanks to a huge slice of luck for the hosts.
A free-kick from the left was only half cleared but North appeared to have Noble’s shot from outside the box covered until it took two deflections, the second off Alan Massey, and nestled inside the near post.
Stones responded well as a sweeping move ended with Chappell’s shot beaten out by Wells and Jolly headed wide when well placed at the end of some more flowing football.
But Stones earned their reward for a storming fightback in the 80th minute when Hammond’s ball in from the right was met by O’Leary, whose header cannoned home off the angle of post and bar.