WEYMOUTH ended their month-long win hoodoo by seeing off Tiverton Town in an entertaining Dr Martens Premier Division derby clash at the Wessex Stadium yesterday.
The crucial victory, which came in front of a bumper Boxing Day crowd of 1,303, was the Terras first league success since former director of football Fred Davies’ finale against Chelmsford City on November 17.
But with his replacement Des Bulpin having at last chalked up a notch in the wins column, Weymouth’s title ambitions look a little more realistic than they did before kick-off.
And their success over ex-Terras favourite Martyn Rogers outfit, who came into the contest on the back of an unbeaten league record stretching back to mid-October, was largely due to the return of the three up-front formation.
Rowbotham, Philips and David Laws all caused the visitors rearguard problems throughout with midfield trio Ian Hutchinson, Matthew Hale and Jason Rowbotham, who was the pick of the bunch, also having stormers.
It was the ex-Plymouth Argyle midfielder who had the first crack on goal in the fourth minute when his drive from distance warmed the hands of Tivvy keeper Paul Edwards.
Hale’s stinging volley had the gloveman at full stretch shortly after and with Weymouth seemingly on the verge of grabbing a deserved lead, a superb last ditch block by defender Steve Peters denied Phillips.
Chances contued to come thick and fast with Laws ruing his poor control on 16 minutes, which saw the grateful Peters nick the ball away from the big man’s toes.
Meanwhile at the other end, the alert Simon Browne cleared just as the on rushing veteran Phil Everett lined up to shoot.
For the remainder of the half, the hosts continued to play at a fast tempo and with real purpose, something which has been in short supply so far this season.
And they were almost rewarded for their neat build-up play when Hale’s deflected cross looped just over the top on 32 minutes.
Just before the break the lively Phillips wasted a decent opportunity when he delayed his shot slightly too long allowing Peters to turn his shot behind. But from the resulting corner the Terras did hit the front with an absolute corker of a goal.
Jason Rowbotham’s tricky right-wing corner was punched by Edwards to brother Darran on the edge of the box who left his marker for dead and cracked a rasping left-footed volley through a crowded area and into the roof of the net.
Sixty seconds later, Ian Hutchinson – celebrating his 300th game for the club – came close to doubling the advantage but his desperate dive just failed to get a touch on Laws’ shot which had struck the far post and rebounded out.
However the Devon-based visitors certainly didn’t let Weymouth have it all their own way and they looked a far more dangerous outfit after the interval.
Only a combination of poor finishing – notably from Jamie Mudge and one time Terras target Anthony Lynch – and a couple of decent stops by keeper Danny Potter from Everett prevented Tivvy from drawing level.
But with Hale rampant down the left flank, there was always a chance of the home side grabbing a killer second and they did so with 15 minutes left to play.
Jason Rowbotham’s free-kick from deep was allowed to run on by Hutchinson just inside the box, who had held off the challenge of Peters, and it was drilled home by Phillips. And the 21-year-old almost bagged another moments later when he was slipped in by substitute Mark Robinson but his surging run and shot was met with a fine point blank save by the on-song Edwards.
However Weymouth always seem to do things the hard way and when Tivvy replacement Richard Pears nodded Steve Winter’s centre past Potter with eight minutes left, you half expected the mid-table visitors to be gifted a share of the spoils.
But luckily for the hosts there was to be no scrooge in the Tiverton ranks, although it was Peters who came closes to earning them a point but he tamely shot straight at Potter in stoppage time.
Terras: Danny Potter, Mark Rawlinson, Matthew Hale, Simon Browne, John Waldock, Ryan Cross, Jason Rowbotham, Ian Hutchinson, Darran Rowbotham, David Laws, Lee Phillips.
Subs: Mark Robinson (for Darran Rowbotham 69), Michael Dean, Martin Underhay
Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters, Nicky Marker, Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell, Jamie Mudge, Phil Everett, David Steele, Paul Chenoweth
Subs: Anthony Lynch (for Chenoweth 58), Richard Pears (for Nancekivell 75), Marcus Goss (for Marker 63)
Bookings – Weymouth: Jason Rowbotham 68 (foul), Huthcinson 90 (foul)
Tiverton: Rogers 65 (foul)
Referee: Darren Spicer (Totton)