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Blackstones beat Birstall United in the United Counties League Division One

Blackstones moved into the play-off places after the best performance of their managerial team's tenure on Wednesday night.

Stones produced a superb all-round performance to beat promotion rivals Birstall United 4-0 in the United Counties League Division One clash.

Skipper Kieran Duffy-Weekes netted twice with Joe Graham and Martin Tudosa also on target in a performance which delighted co-boss Ryan Wood.

Kieran Duffy-Weekes scored twice.
Kieran Duffy-Weekes scored twice.

He said: "It was our best performance since we've been at the club.

"We've had other good wins but, for me and considering the level of the opponent, we've dominated from the beginning to the end.

"Every player was a part of that and we've been waiting for that this season because there were some superb individual performances all over the pitch.

"Joe Graham made a huge difference having a focal point with his energy and effort. He gave their centre-halves a really tough night and was superb.

"Martin Tudosa was sensational, the back three were brilliant and everyone did well in their individual roles which was really pleasing because Birstall are a good footballing side who will be there or thereabouts for the play-offs."

Stones had gone into the midweek match after a 2-2 draw at Holwell Sports on Saturday.

Martin Tudosa.
Martin Tudosa.

Former Cottesmore striker Tom Pope had put Holwell ahead before Louie Venni equalised for the visitors shortly after.

Luke Hunnings gave Stones the lead in first half injury time but Holwell shrugged off the dismissal of Joe Brown nine minutes after the break to equalise late on through Jack York.

Stones had signalled their intentions early on in Wednesday's match with the lively Tudosa testing visiting goalkeeper Charlie Doherty after a low shot early on.

Graham then headed wide at the back post from a Jack Wilson cross before Stones' endeavour was epitomised with the first goal midway through the opening half.

Wilson had failed to convert a Tudosa cross at the back post but, as Birstall struggled to clear their lines, Graham pounced to win possession and then unselfishly teed up Duffy-Weekes to tap home from close range.

While the opening goal might be one of the easier that the Stones skipper scores this season, his second to double the lead after 36 minutes was a sublime strike.

A corner to the back post was headed down to the edge of the box where Duffy-Weekes' first time hit flew into the Birstall net.

Tudosa flashed another effort into the side-netting before Stones added their third on the stroke of half-time.

Duffy-Weekes was this time the provider as he slotted an inch-perfect through ball for Graham to run onto and beat the advancing keeper with a confident finish.

It was the perfect ending to a fantastic first half for Stones but they had to be wary of a Birstall backlash after the break.

The visitors made two changes but Stones didn't let their levels drop and the home side's cause was also aided by Birstall substitute Sam Richards being sin-binned 10 minutes into the second period.

A fourth goal with 18 minutes remaining capped the night off for Stones and the marauding Tudosa who produced another stand-out performance.

The tigerish youngster won possession with a strong challenge before breaking into the box and unleashing a brilliant strike into the far corner of the net.

Birstall did push for a consolation late on but Stones' determination never wavered as Jamie Short produced a crucial goalmouth block while goalkeeper Simon Dalton made a smart late stop in his first serious test of the night.

The victory pushed Stones up into fifth spot as they look to maintain their upward trajectory in a tricky trip to Lutterworth Athletic on Saturday.

Wood added: "It has been a tough season so far this year and that's because it was new to us last year and there were a lot of highs.

"It felt amazing to win every game last season but this time, when you win your bread and butter games, it feels like you've just done your job.

"When you drop points in draws and defeats, it does affect us more like it did last season.

"Our expectations have changed going into this season and we do need to back up this performance on Saturday.

"The performance levels are not always going to be that high but you've got to try and get close to it every week and take certain elements of it."

After Saturday's away trip, Stones are back in action at home on Wednesday night when they entertain Eynesbury Rovers in the Hinchingbrooke Cup. The winners will visit Deeping Rangers in the quarter-finals.

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