Geoff Butler is proving to be a man of his word. The Terras boss promised changes after Monday’s dire performance against Tiverton Town and sure enough he shuffled his small squad at Grantham Town on Saturday. Stalwart Ian Hutchinson was relegated to the substitute’s bench at Trent Road, whilst there was no place for Mark Robinson who was forced to watch from the stand.
And had it not been for some disappointing finishing in front of goal, the shake-up would have of paid off against the unbeaten Dr Martens Premier Division leaders. Weymouth began brightly, enjoying the better of the early possession, but it was the Gingerbreads who almost took advantage of a Steve Tully mistake in the seventh minute.
The young defender put Jason Matthews in trouble with a miss-directed back header, but the former Exeter goalkeeper did well to get down to his left under pressure from Gary Bull, much to the delight of the small local support. A minute later the hosts returned the complement and this time it was Matthew’s opposite number Mario Ziccardi who came to the rescue, this time you could hear a pin drop!
The Terras continued to look lively and Ryan Ashford wasn’t far away with a 30-yard effort on 10 minutes, which left Ziccardi back pedaling as the ball just sailed over the bar.
At the other end Chris Hall had a deflected shot that Matthews saved just under the bar, and the assured keeper then rushed off his line to block Lee Marshall’s close range effort. But it was the visitors who created the best opportunities during the first 45 minutes, with a host of chances going begging.
Alex Browne almost made the breakthrough with a near post header that shaved the woodwork following a Tully free kick, and the Terras captain was then unlucky to have another nodded effort cleared off the line by Steve Wenlock.
In between times, a brilliant through ball by Michael Sajic set Chris Giles on his way but the Yeovil loan star was denied by the acrobatics of Ziccardi. Martin Barlow was also guilty of wasting a decent opening from just three yards out and it was Grantham who were relieved to hear the referee’s half-time whistle.
Lee Phillips Weymouth were made to pay for those attacking shortcomings in the second period as the league leaders stepped up a couple of gears. Within eight minutes, the Lincolnshire side got their noses in front following a Bull corner from the left. His delivery found the rising head of Rick Ranshaw at the near post who guided the ball past Matthews and into the back of the net.
Town then doubled their advantage on 64 minutes after some great skills by Bull who managed to get a cross in from an impossible position close to the corner flag. This time it was Jim Neil who sneaked in behind the visiting rearguard to bravely nod home. The two-goal cushion gave Town breathing space although Weymouth continued to plug away despite having a mountain to climb.
Butler threw on substitutes Lee Bradford, Michael Dean and Lance Spencer in a bid to salvage something from the contest, and it almost paid dividends.
Spencer bent an eight-yard shot just wide of the target and some great approach play by Lee Phillips led to Giles having a snap header well saved by Ziccardi. But at the final the whistle the score remained:
Grantham Town 2 Weymouth 0
Away Supports Top Terra: Michael Sajic
On chances created, Weymouth should have taken all three points, but in the end it was Grantham’s clinical touch in front of goal that settled this entertaining encounter.
Mario Ziccardi, Steve Wenlock, Darren Dye, Brendon McDaid, Danny George, Ian Wilkins,
Lee Marshall, Gary Bull (Stuart Wilson), Rick Ranshaw 1 (Jamie Clarke), Jim Neil 1, Chris Hall.
Subs: Mark Foster, Wayne Hallero, Dominic Hallows.
Goals: Ranshaw 53, Neil 64
Bookings: 1 for a Grantham player
Jason Matthews, Steve Tully, Simon Browne, Alex Browne, Mark Kenway,
Mark Rawlinson, Michael Sajic, Ryan Ashford, Martin Barlow, Chris Giles, Lee Phillips.
Subs: Michael Dean (used), Lance Spencer (used), Lee Bradford (used), Ian Hutchinson (not used).
Referee: G. Sandell ( Norwich )
Assistants: G. Wilson ( St. Neots ), M. McIntyre ( Kings Lynn )