Wealdstone moved into the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup after a patient but battling performance to overcome Hungerford Town at a soggy Bulpit Lane on Saturday.
Second half goals from a back-from-injury Bradley Bubb and Fumnaya Shomotun were enough to see off the Crusaders in front of a surprisingly low attendance of 306 for this stage of the Cup.
The draw for the 4th Qualifying Round will be made live today on talkSPORT 2.
Stones started the tie in good form and were stringing passes together but soon realised that they were to face a packed defence and would be closed down rapidly at every opportunity by a resolute home side.
The away side soon created several good chances and Bradley Hudson-Odoi went close early on that was spawned by a fantastic crash tackle by Freddie Grant in the midfield.
Hungerford for their part were creating little but defended stoically and looked for a mistake or a set piece to create an opening.
Hudson-Odoi again went close on 18 minutes via good work from Wadah Ahmidi and two minutes later Town finally had a half-chance on goal but the ball flashed well over from Danilo Orsi-Dadomo’s header.
After Stones almost got caught on a rare break-out, Shomotun had a great run through the defence and struck the cross bar.
Odoi went close again but was then necessarily substituted after a head injury brought medical attention despite the wingers displeasure at not being allowed to continue.
Hungerford continued to frustrate the Stones with strong defending but the feeling was that down the slope in the second period would bring reward – with patience, and with ball on the ground.
HT – 0-0
Bubb tried his luck with a great snap shot that could only be parried by home keeper Michael Luyambula but no player was hand to seize on the loose ball. Sub Jeffrey Monakana’s cross was almost turned in by the on rushing Danny Green as game became more finely balanced with Town breaking up play increasingly effectively.
Finally, the breakthrough for Stones came on 66 minutes when Shomotun’s skill on the right allowed Bubb to hook home past Luyambula. With the Crusaders now a goal behind they were chasing the game and more space was created for an eager away side as their tempo ratcheted up.
Monakana’s strength and pace saw him smash a strike off the woodwork as Wealdstone looked to kill the game off with the clock ticking down. And the decisive goal came with 10 minutes to go when, following a Green corner, Shomotun showed his skills and lashed the ball home.
But this is Cup football and the home side weren’t going to lay down and die and sure enough hit back two minutes later with a smart finish from Orsi-Dadomo to bring some tension back to the tie. Stones were able to manage the game out reasonably comfortably and they ran the clock down despite 4 minutes of added time
WEALDSTONE: North, Sheppard, Grant, Stevens, Okimo, Poku, Shomotun, Ahmidi, Bubb, Green, Hudson-Odoi. Subs used: Monakana, Lench, Slew. Not used: Wilson, Wheeler (GK), Clark, Mambo.
Picture courtesy of Geoff Smith/Top-Pic Photography