Covid can’t stop the Stones from rolling
Covid leads the Stones down a rocky road
Two separate Covid-19 outbreaks at Wealdstone FC kept the side off the pitch for almost four weeks over the new year. But they bounced back with a point against Notts County before being defeated by Grimsby Town.
The last game Wealdstone played before Christmas was an FA Cup tie at Needham Market where they lost 2-1 on the 18th of December, after which the team isolated for ten days following a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp.
The Stones only managed one training session on the 2nd of January before another outbreak swept through the squad, keeping them side-lined until the 11th when they lost away at Boreham Wood 1-0.
But late January has seen them get their season back on track with four points from three games, the most significant of which came from a 0-0 draw with Notts County who arrived at Grosvenor Vale unbeaten in seven.
“It was a great result for the club,” said Wealdstone Head of Media Chris Woods. “Both teams had polar opposite form going into the game. They hadn’t lost since November, and we hadn’t won since October.
“Wealdstone probably had the better of the first half,” Woods continued. “We should have won the game then. Notts County were better second half and but neither side could find a way through. It was a stubborn test for both strikers.”
Wealdstone’s Connor Stevens was voted man of the match, who is back to full fitness after a difficult period with injuries.
Woods said: “He’s had a really dogged time with injuries for the last two seasons. He played only once last year and was a key player when we won the league two years ago, so it's good to have him back. It's almost like having a new signing.”
At the time of writing, Wealdstone sits 19th in the National League with 25 points with two games in hand after their issues with Covid-19. With just over half the season played, Woods believes this is a huge achievement for a club of their financial structure.
Asked if he would have taken this position
before the season began, he said:
“100 per cent. It’s imperative we stay in this division for us to grow as a club.
“I think if we drop back into the league below, the hunger to get back to where we are now would be insatiable. So yeah, any amount of points and any goal difference, goals scored, whatever – as long as we're above the relegation zone, we'll take that.”
Dover Athletic are currently rock bottom of the National League with -5 points and look destined for relegation this year. King’s Lynn Town join them on 11 points, with Weymouth just ahead on 16.
Wealdstone’s 25 points look healthy at this stage of the season, especially with the games in hand. Only 3 points separate 20th and 15th in the league table though, so much will depend on the second half of the season for Stuart Maynard’s side.
Wealdstone’s next game is at Grimsby Town on the 29th of September, who they beat 1-0 at home in October with one of the season’s biggest results so far.
Woods is quietly confident the Stones can do the double over the former league leaders, who have been on a dreadful run of form since the last time the teams met, winning just twice in 11 league games.
“With us beating them at our place earlier this year, we'll go there and fancy ourselves but once again, they're much more well-resourced club and are expected to beat teams like Wealdstone so it's going to be a tough game. But anyone can beat anyone in this league on their day.
“It all depends on the right mentality, I guess,” Woods continued. “For the small teams like us, we can go into these sorts of fixtures thinking they’re cup ties and approaching it that way.
“But by hook or by crook, as long as we get a point on the road, that's going to be a really good point and probably very valuable as well at the end of the season.”
On Saturday, Wealdstone FC were unable to do the double, as their meeting with Grimsby Town ended in a 2-1 defeat at Blundell Park. Wealdstone were unable to come back from a two-goal deficit, despite getting one back. Wealdstone ends the month in 20th as Maidenhead and Altrincham both creep a point above, however, they will be back in action on Tuesday 8th against Yeovil Town.
All photo credits go to photographer John Taffel.