Sodje Puts Terras Lights Out
Just 12 short months ago Weymouth lined up against Ryman Premier division outfit Chesham United, and were dumped out of the FA Trophy in embarrassing style.
Today’s Ryman Premier division opponents Heybridge Swifts, sit uncomfortably near the drop zone, but FA Cup glory and the financial benefits that are the trappings of that success are reflective in their newly purchased striker Akpo Sodje from Woking.
The groundsman had worked hard to get the pitch in a playable condition, although the whole midfield resembled a bog and was badly cut up where the mower had been across it.
Weymouth were without Midfield inspiration Danny Bailey who was cup tied having played in earlier rounds for Ford Town and Ryan Ashford was the surprise inclusion in mid field over Michael Dean.
Heybridge looked lively in the opening quarter with the leggy Sodje dancing into the box on two minutes, only the cool head of skipper Browne stopped him opening the scoring. The partisan refereeing was evident as early as the fourth minute, Robinson picked out Phillips from deep, he pushed the ball wide to Hale who raced to the by line, he checked his run then cleverly bought the ball back and put in a cross, keeper Banks, appealed for a goal kick to the out of pace officials and was rewarded with one. That set the standard for the first half as every appeal was whistled up as the Essex referee appeased the locals.
The host’s pacey front-runners had Weymouth wary and the back five never strayed far from their defensive positions in the first half and so the back line knocked the ball long for Phillips and Charles whenever the opportunity arose.
The Swifts James Window made a sparkling run at the Weymouth defence and let fly from 20 yards; his shot flew past the upright on 19 minutes.
Tulley broke down the right flank after a good tackle on Abraham’s, he raced forward only to be cropped from behind on the edge of the area by Ballie, referee Jones booked the left back but others may have sent him off as he was the last man. Ashford’s resultant curling free kick from the right of the area received a touch from Simon Browne, which eluded the keeper and was goal bound; incredibly Lee Phillips at the far post hooked the ball off the line and to safety for the relieved home fans. Phillips for his troubles collided with the post and played the rest of the game with a heavily strapped wrist.
Weymouth were now enjoying a lot more possession and with the half hour just up Mark Robinson belted the ball from 20 yards after good work by Hale out on the left, his shot shaved the top of the bar.
Play swung to the other end, and Matthew had to be at his best with a flying fingertip save from Kevin Budge, a minute later Budge was guilty of an embarrassing miss with the goal at his mercy, he shot wide.
Robinson set Phillips free on 33 minutes, Lee bounded forward and unleashed a cracking shot that beat the keeper but cannoned off the upright. Julian Charles’s flick on two minutes later found Hutchinson who slipped into the box and shot, the keeper was again beaten but Danny Wornham cleared.
It was all Weymouth and the vocal travelling support were wondering when the first goal would come, Tulley saw a chance for Phillips to beat the off side trap on 38 minutes, but Banks was up to the job and smothered Phillips shot.
John Waldock made a name for himself on 40 minutes as he made a great block on Kevin Budge as he was about to shoot, but disaster struck for the visitors in injury time, a Heybridge corner was hit long, finding Sodje, he passed to Budge whose shot came off the bar and away to the right of goal, the ball was hit back across the face of goal, Matthews fumbled and Tulley at the far post hit the ball into the back of the net.
So at half time the score was:
Heybridge Swifts 1 Weymouth 0
Weymouth came at their host’s all guns blazing after the interval and on 48 minutes they were awarded a penalty when keeper banks found it easier to punch Phillips than the ball when going for a cross on the edge of the six yards box, Mr Jones pointed to the spot immediately but kept his cards in his pocket.
Hutchinson stepped forward after Phillips had received some lengthy treatment and blasted the ball past Banks. Game on.
It was all one way traffic as the Terra’s pummelled away at the Swifts goal but efforts from just about every member of the team apart from Matthews went either wide or was gathered by the very vocal Banks.
The home side started to fill up Mr Jones address book as first Warnham and then Tomlinson was booked for some fairly agricultural tackles on the rampant Terras.
Matthews got down well to a Budge shot on 68 minutes in a rare Heybridge assault on the visitors goal and further misery for the Swifts came on 71 minutes when Tomlinson was sent off for a second bookable offence after another deplorable tackle on Ashford.
Weymouth kept driving forward cheered on by the hoarse claret and blue army (more of a platoon thought) and Phillips should have sewn things up on 87 minutes when clean through his shot beat Banks but went wide.
Right on full time Heybridge broke the Terra’s hearts, the goal already well rehearsed by Tiverton came from their right, Paul Abraham’s low shot was parried by Matthews missed by Simon Browne and buried into the net at the far post by Sodje.
Weymouth dusted themselves down and pushed forward from the restart, but just as Charles was about to burst through, the meagre floodlighting failed and the ground was in darkness. The players left the field and thoughts turned to a journey back to Essex on Tuesday night if they could not be fixed.
However after a 15 minutes pause, one at a time the lights flickered on and the game resumed, Hale had a great chance as he broke into the box and let fly from the left, Banks was going the wrong way but his reaction to stick out a foot was enough to deflect the ball wide and from the corner Waldock powered the ball goal wards with a cracking header that came off the top of the bar but that was it for the luckless Terra’s as at the final whistle the score was:
Heybridge Swifts 2 Weymouth 1
Away Supporters, Top Terra: Jason Matthews
Those that failed to make the 200 mile journey will see this as just another nail in Geoff Butlers coffin, but this was anything but, with the amount of chances that went begging only the strikers have themselves to blame. It also pointed out the benefits of a good cup run as Heybridge’s wise spending on Sodje is already reaping rewards.
Kingsley Banks, Noel Saianto, Lewis Baillie, Kelly Pollard (Michael Dignum 13), Daniel Wornham, Andrew Tomlinson,
Paul Abrahams, Ronnie Gould (Neil Gough 81), Akpo Sodje 1, Kevin Budge (Leon Hunter 73), James Window.
Subs not used: David Kreyling, Ricky Clark
Goals: Tully 45og, Sodje 89
Jason Matthews, Stephen Tully, Simon Browne, Alex Browne, John Waldock,
Matthew Hale, Mark Robinson, Ian Hutchinson 1, Ryan Ashford, Julian Charles, Lee Phillips.
Subs: Michael Dean, Sean Adamson, Mark Kenway, Marc Whiteman.
Goal: Hutchinson 48pen
Referee: Chris Jones
Assistants: Chris Thorpe, Wayne Jarvis