WEYMOUTH finally battered Ashford Town into submission to clinch a place in the last 16 of the FA Umbro Trophy at the Wessex Stadium.

But it was a far from convincing performance from the Terras against their plucky Kent opponents.

The Dr Martens Eastern Division outfit were heading for a well deserved replay after Adrian Webster had cancelled out David Laws opener midway through the second-half.

But glorious strikes from Darran Rowbotham and Lee Phillips in a devastating final nine-minute spell were enough to send the Terras into the fifth round of the competition for the very first time in their history.

The pre-match signs had looked ominous for visitors. Weymouth had been in merciless form of late with six goals against Ilkeston the week before and four-apiece having gone past Kings Lynn and Dorchester in recent times.

And the Terras started in that vein with Matthew Hale setting up a great second minute chance for Ian Hutchinson who was only denied by Jason Ash’s last ditch tackle.

But Town immediately thwarted fears that they’d prove easy pickings by carving two golden opportunities of their own.

First Tony Eeles blasted straight at Danny Potter following ex-Terra Steve Lovell’s clever dummy and Steven Robinson was then foiled by the keeper after finding the ball at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box.

Weymouth appeared a touch apprehensive during those opening exchanges with no one prepared to put their foot on the ball and take control.

In fact a goal looked the only likely way of settling the nerves and came following a nice build-up on 24 minutes. Rowbotham did well to stay on his feet and deliver an inch-perfect cross from the right-hand by-line and there was the trusty head of Laws to nod home unmarked at the far post.

That should have spelt the beginning of the end for Ashford, but still the Terras failed to stamp their authority on the tie.

The hosts were then restricted to just one half-hit Rowbotham effort before the interval, while Town front runners Lovell and Steve Marshall should have done better with a header and snap-shot, respectively.

Ashford continued to force Weymouth on to the defensive early in the second period, although they failed to prise a meaningful opening out of John Waldock, Matthew Davies and Mathew Hare.

And while the Terras were still anything but convincing, they at least had chances to double their advantage through Simon Browne’s deflected thunderbolt and Laws’ side-footed shot from just outside the area.

But Town always looked capable of getting back into contention and they were rewarded for all their hard work and commitment on 69 minutes.

Substitute Paul Ribbens made the most of some slack defending to release Webster through the middle and the young winger kept his cool before slotting past the advancing Potter.

Weymouth’s response was instant with Rowbotham anticipating the bounce of a long ball over the top before seeing his goal-bound drive brilliantly saved by Craig Tucker. But with a trip to The Homelands on Tuesday night beckoning, Ashford hearts were cruelly broken by a touch of real class on 81 minutes. Hale’s industry down the left led to Laws feeding Rowbotham some 30-yards out and the visiting rearguard could only watch in admiration as the former Exeter City legend flicked the ball up and fired home an absolute pearler.

The underdogs were forced to throw everything into attack after that and they were made to pay for their desperation on 87 minutes.

Mathew Hare charged down a Marshall toe-poke just inside the Terras penalty box before setting off on an inspirational run to the opposite end of the pitch, with Lee Phillips supporting stride for stride.

And when the big defender finally released his team-mate with a measured pass inside, the Plymouth Argyle loan man simply skipped round Tucker with ease and converted from the narrowest of angles.

The Dr Martens Premier side were now rampant with the tireless Mark Robinson almost grabbing the goal his performance deserved in the 90th minute. And there was still time for sponsors’ man of the match Hale to have two close range stabs saved by Tucker, although both chances fell to the wing-back’s weaker right foot.

FA Trophy Fourth Round: Bilston 0 Canvey Island 1; Blyth Spartans 2 Maidenhead United 1; Chester 3 St Albans 2; Emley 2 Yeovil 4; Evesham United 0 Morecambe 0; Hereford 0 Leigh RMI 0; Histon v Billericay – postponed; King’s Lynn 1 Telford 2; Kingstonian 0 Southport 1; Marine 0 Rushden 6; Matlock 2 Forest Green 2; Scarborough 0 Burton Albion 1; Stevenage 2 Margate 1; Tiverton 2 Boston 1; Worksop 6 Congleton 2.

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