Dover’s 100% Start Halted
Weymouth began their post David Laws days in spectacular fashion against previously unbeaten Dover Athletic at the Crabble.
Fans might have been left wondering where the goals would come from following the great man’s £6,000 transfer to Eastleigh on Thursday. But in Chris Giles, the Terras might have found themselves the perfect foil for Laws’ former partner in crime, Lee Phillips.
The 20-year-old Yeovil Town youngster turned in an excellent display against last season’s Nationwide Conference outfit and he capped a fine debut by scoring the goal that ensured all three points came back to Dorset.
Few would have expected the Terras to have got much from their long journey east and it was the hosts who had the better of the opening exchanges.
A weak back pass by Steve Tully in the fifth minute was pounced on by Simon Glover but his shot crashed into the side netting.
Weymouth’s first chance came on nine minutes when Martin Barlow picked out Phillips with a cross field ball, and keeper Paul Hyde did well to deal with the forward’s stinging first time shot.
Another mistake by Tully almost let Athletic in again when his misguided header fell to Glover who shaved the post with his sweetly struck effort.
However, the Terras immediately responded with Phillips just missing the target after Mark Kenway and Mark Robinson had combined well in the build up and Mark Rawlinson also went close with a dipping volley.
Dover continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, but it was the visitors who looked more dangerous in attack with Phillips and Giles proving a handful for the home defence.
The Kent side too had their chances, but with first choice strikers Tommy Tyne and Paul Sykes both missing, they lacked that killer touch in front of goal.
Having gone into the break all square, it was Weymouth who returned the more confident and lively of the two sides in the second half.
And they almost went in front on 47 minutes when Giles’ close range header was cleared off the line by defender Tony Browne.
But the travelling supporters didn’t have to wait long to see their team take the lead and it was Giles who set things up on 51 minutes with a sweeping run and cross from the left.
His centre found Phillips waiting on the penalty spot and the Cornishman evaded a tackle before side-footing past a rooted Hyde.
Athletic heads dropped after that and the Terras almost took advantage when Giles fed Phillips on 55 minutes and his goalbound effort was turned away by Hyde.
From the result Ian Hutchinson corner, an unmarked Phillips flicked backwards at the near post and there was 6ft 2in Giles to power home a header from just inside the box.
Weymouth pressed hard in search of a third goal and it was only a combination of stout defending, good goalkeeping and poor finishing that prevented them from achieving their aim.
The best of those opportunities was a Michael Dean drive from distance and a Giles header that had Hyde back-pedalling.
Dover eventually got their acts together late on but there was to be no way past a solid Terras defence in which skipper Alex Browne, rookie Kenway, Tully and gloveman Jason Matthews were outstanding.
Paul Hyde, Tony Browne, Steve Norman, Nicky Humphries (Danny Chapman 57), Dean Readings, Andy Arnott,
Jamie Day, Lee Spiller, Kristian James (Roy Godden 57), Simon Glover (Darren Davies 90), Matt Carruthers.
Subs not used: Allan Williams, Dave Bathgate.
Jason Matthews, Steve Tulley, Simon Browne, Alex Browne, Mark Kenway, Mark Rawlinson,
Mark Robinson, Ian Hutchinson (Michael Dean 78mins), Martin Barlow, Chris Giles, Lee Phillips.
Subs not used: Ryan Ashford, Michael Sajic, Lance Spencer, Lee Bradford..
Goals: Phillips, Giles
Referee: P Harrison