Terras crash out in injury time agony
WEYMOUTH 1, HINCKLEY UNITED 2
JAMIE Lenton’s freak injury-time goal sent the Terras crashing out of the FA Cup.
The Hinckley United skipper struck in the 94th minute to leave Weymouth fans shell-shocked, and keeper Danny Potter heartbroken.
Potter, who has been in outstanding form this season, was inconsolable at the final whistle after misjudging Lenton’s speculative cross-cum-shot from 40 yards, allowing it to sail over his head and into the back of the net.
And that just rubbed salt into the former Exeter City man’s wounds after having earlier gifted the Knitters’ a dramatic 73rd minute opener.
In between times, substitute Simon Browne pulled the Terras level from the penalty spot, but it was the Leicestershire side who claimed the £20,000 prize money and a trip to Grays Athletic in the first round proper.
The disappointing hosts were first out of the traps in front of a season’s best crowd of 1,258, and they could have gone ahead within five minutes.
Knitters’ defender Scott Eustace almost sliced Ian Hutchinson’s cross into his own net, while seconds later David Laws saw his fizzing volley from the edge of the box go close.
Lee Phillips then pulled a shot wide and it seemed just a matter of time before Weymouth got their noses in front.
But after that early purple patch, the contest became a much tighter affair with play confined mostly to the middle third. The well-organised visitors then forced five successive corners to put the Terras on the backfoot and it was captain Alex Browne who came to his team’s rescue by clearing Karl Brennan’s cross from underneath the bar. Despite lively Hinckley striker Paul Hunter proving a handful, his powerful drive into Potter’s side-netting was all they really offered in the first half.
Weymouth’s strike trio of Darran Rowbotham, Laws and Phillips failed to make any real headway, although once they did create a clear-cut opening the usually reliable Laws failed to take full advantage.
The big striker capitalised on a rare slip from the excellent Stuart Storer and looked odds on to score when he broke the offside trap and raced clean through. But with just keeper Damien Beattie to beat, the on-song striker tamely shot straight at the grateful gloveman.
And Beattie was again called into action seconds before the break when he superbly turned behind Phillips’ zipping drive from distance.
After the interval chances were once again at a premium with stout defending from both sides keeping the scoreline level.
However on 56 minutes the Terras were just millimetres from taking the lead when it took a miraculous goal-line clearance from Storer to save the day for the Leicestershire outfit. With Beattie rushing from his line, John Waldock picked out Phillips whose flick header left the keeper stranded in no man’s land.
But just as the ex-Plymouth Argyle man was preparing to wheel away in celebration, Storer appeared from nowhere to brilliantly hook from right underneath the crossbar.
With 20 minutes remaining, Terras boss Andy Mason stepped up his efforts to prize a way through what was a ten-man United rearguard by withdrawing the Rowbotham brothers in favour of Simon Browne and Kevin Parker.
However disaster struck on 73 minutes as the visitors were gifted the lead when Cross’ backpass put Potter under needless pressure and his rushed clearance was charged down by Andy Lucas who was then left with the simply task of walking the ball into an empty net.
But Weymouth were quick to respond and got themselves level just four minutes later when referee Simon Snartt adjudged Tim Wilkes to have handled Mark Robinson’s cut-back and Simon Browne coolly stroked home the resulting spot-kick.
Things then threatened to turn ugly as Laws wrestled Beattie for the ball in the goalmouth and a full-scale riot looked on the cards.
But the situation was quickly diffused with Laws and Battie collecting yellow cards for their troubles. The Dorset club were dealt an unexpected blow as Parker was forced to make a rapid exit with a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury, and Michael Dean replaced him.
Surprisingly it was the visitors who went looking for a winner with purpose during a nail-biting final ten minutes – Hunter drilled wide, substitute Justin Jenkins missed a five-yard sitter and Waldock denied Lenton with a life-saving headed clearance.
But just as home fans were working out their routes for a replay on Tuesday night, up popped United captain Lenton to pull the plug on their plans. While most players in his position would have opted to hang on to possession in an attempt to waste time, the former Solihull man instead opted to deliver what looked like an ambitious cross into the danger zone.
But to the disbelief of a hapless Potter and every other eyewitness, the ball flew past his despairing dive and into the net.