United face the first of two back-to-back matches at Plainmoor on Saturday, as they look to extend their excellent recent form against Wealdstone.
After three successive wins, and clean sheets, against Billericay, Dartford and Concord, The Gulls now have a challenging double header to look forward to, with fellow promotion candidates Chelmsford City following The Stones’ visit to Devon on Tuesday.
Who’s the boss?
Bobby Wilkinson was appointed as Wealdstone manager in August 2017, following an impressive spell in charge of Hungerford Town, whom he led to two promotions. Following a playing career with the likes of Thame United, Marlow and Burnham, Wilkinson took on managerial roles at Henley Town, Kintbury Rangers and Milton United, before leading The Stones to an 11th placed finish during his first season in charge at Grosvenor Vale.
How are they doing?
Wealdstone are currently one point, and one place, outside the play-off positions with 57 points form their 36 games. Their form in 2019 has been impressive, with their 3-1 home defeat to Welling earlier this month being their only defeat in 14 games. A promising start to the season was tempered by a nightmare month in December, with the club taking just one point from four league games, as well as crashing out of the FA Trophy at the hands of Biggleswade Town. However, a league double over United’s main title rivals, Woking, provides enough evidence of the side’s potential to unsettle any team in the division on their day.
Players to watch
Wealdstone can boast an FA Cup record holder in their ranks, with striker Stefan Brown scoring the fastest ever FA Cup hat-trick after notching three inside 15 minute whilst playing for AFC Totton back in 2011. Spells at Basingstoke Town, Maidenhead Utd and Hungerford Town preceded his move to Grosvenor Vale last May, and Brown’s strike in the 1-0 win over Chippenham last weekend secured the club’s first home win since January. Midfielder Godfrey Poku enjoyed spells with clubs such as St Albans, Luton, Mansfield and Telford prior to joining the club from Oxford City in May 2018. An experienced campaigner, Poku’s physical presence in The Stones’ engine room has played a large part in his side’s recent surge towards the play-off zone.
Played for both
Former United midfielders Reece Mitchell and Chris Regis have both represented Wealdstone this season, having also enjoyed brief spells at Plainmoor recently. Winger Mitchell signed for Gary Owers’ side last season, making two league appearances, whilst Regis joined the club last summer and went on to make nine appearances for the club. He scored his only goal for the club in the 7-0 televised FA Cup win over Lymington in September, shortly before switching to the West London side.
Our only previous encounter with Wealdstone was the reverse fixture earlier this season. Back in October, a missed Jamie Reid penalty failed to discourage a rampant United side, as goals either side of the interval from Opi Edwards and George Essuman, plus a late strike from Reid himself, secured an impressive 3-0 win for Gary Johnson’s men.