Slippery Stones deny City despite super Stearn treble

A Ross Stearn hat-trick wasn’t quite enough to earn City a victory at a wet and windy Wealdstone this afternoon in an action-packed encounter. Despite leading 2-0 and 3-2 in the closing stages of the game the Stones fought back to grab a point with a last minute equaliser. After a moving pre-match Remembrance Day tribute it was City who began the game strongly, racing into a two-goal lead. With just four minutes on the clock good work from Frankie Artus and Adam Mann saw Stearn drive a great left-foot shot just inside the post. And ten minutes later Joe Raynes set up Stearn for another shot from outside the box that wrong-footed keeper North to make it 2-0. City continued to boss the game but couldn’t add to their advantage before the break. With the rain getting heavier and heavier the hosts began the second half on the front foot, playing down the Grosvenor Vale slope. City weathered this storm though and spurned a great chance to make it 3-0 on the hour, North denying Raynes after a great cross from Sean Rigg. The Romans once again looked in control of the game but on 74 minutes the Stones got an undeserved lifeline when Anthony Straker deflected a free-kick into his own net. Buoyed by this good fortune Wealdstone poured forward and it took a great double save from Ryan Clarke on 82 minutes to maintain City’s slim advantage. However, four minutes later luck deserted City again when Robbie Cundy was harshly adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball in the box as it skidded off the increasingly sodden turf and Charles made it 2-2 from the penalty spot. Having been second best for nearly the whole game it was suddenly Wealdstone who looked the likelier winners but instead it was City who regained the lead on 87 minutes as Stearn completed his hat-trick from close range. This sparked joyous scenes near the City dugout but they turned out to be premature as with the 90 minutes just up the ball broke to Charles in the City box and despite Clarke getting a hand to his shot the ball struck the post and almost apologetically spun into the goal.