Terras Miss All Three Points

On a freezing, foggy afternoon, on a pitch that some would not play rugby on, the rejuvenated Terras faced an on form Stafford Rangers outfit still basking in the warmth of their recent 4-2 victory over title chasing Crawley Town.

The Stafford talk before the game was by how many the home side was going to stuff the lowly visitors, at the end, they considered it a point saved. For the Terras faithful that had made the arduous journey to the frozen north, two points dropped was the considered opinion.

Toby Redwood, in for the suspended Simon Browne, gave a faultless display on his Terras debut, while Mark Kenway proved an adequate replacement at the heart of the defence for injured skipper Alex Browne.

Goalkeeper Jason Matthews was again outstanding and there were improved displays from youngsters Michael Sajic and Marc Whiteman.

Third placed Rangers started brightly with Rob Heath volleying just over the bar following their first attack on three minutes. Alfie Carter then sent in a testing cross after good work by Heath, but Redwood was there to clear the danger under pressure from former QPR front man, Dennis Bailey.

However, a Weymouth side showing new-found self belief coped well during the opening exchanges and they almost shocked the hosts when Ian Hutchinson hit a 20-yard drive on 13 minutes which Stafford keeper Ryan Price collected despite slipping on the greasy surface.

The Terras enjoyed decent possession after that as they settled into their stride, but it was Rangers who carried the greater threat in front of goal.

Experienced campaigner Dennis Bailey almost broke the deadlock on the half-hour with a curling shot, which Matthews did well to tip over the bar after diving full-length to left.

That was to be Dennis Bailey’s last contribution as he limped off with a knee injury, but it didn’t stop the hosts attacking in numbers with both Carter and Paul Szewczyk thwarted by Matthews.

Weymouth too had opportunities just before the break, first Sajic burst into the box only to be denied by Price, while Matthew Hale wasn’t far away with a deft 30-yard chip.

So at half time the score was Stafford Rangers 0- Weymouth 0

There was almost a dramatic start to the second period when Robin Gibson slipped behind the visiting defence and lashed goal wards but somehow the unsighted Matthews managed to fling himself towards his near post and turn the effort away for a corner.
The Terras then suffered a blow on 57 minutes when they lost influential playmaker Mark Robinson to a groin strain and it was Channel Islander Whiteman who came on to partner Lee Phillips up front.

Just past the hour, Phillips set off on a clear run towards goal, beating Rangers left-back Richard Beale in the process, but after rounding glove man Price, he shot wide from the tightest angle of angles.

Weymouth continued to press and Whiteman could have made a name for himself on a couple of occasions, his first a well hit drive from 10 yards had price at his best to push the ball round for a corner, and from the ensuing set piece his diving header was well held by the lanky gloveman.

And in what was a fast becoming a tale of two goalkeepers, Matthews was also in inspired form at the other end, as Craig McAughtrie found to his cost in the 77th minute.

The Terras custodian, who last summer was offered a contract by the Marston Road outfit, collected his powerfully struck free kick comfortably.

There were a few heart-stopping moments for the visitors as Stafford looked to make it four Dr Martens Premier Division wins in a row late on, a long ball from deep to the sprinting Gibson out on the right was met by Matthew who threw himself at the ball, Gibson got his cross cum shot in and only the head of Redwood on the Weymouth line kept the score sheet clean. However, it was their lowly opponents who almost grabbed all three points in the dying seconds.

Phillips again failed to make the most of another one-on-one with Price, opting to shoot at the grounded keeper when a square ball to an unmarked Whiteman would have been a better ploy.

Moments later a desperate goalmouth scramble ended with the ball falling to Sajic on the edge of the penalty area and he was unlucky to see his right foot effort come back off the post. With the ball spinning towards the Rangers line, home man of the match, Wayne Daniel managed to hook clear to ensure his side a share of the spoils.

So at the final whistle the score was:

Stafford Rangers 0 Weymouth 0

Away Supporters Top Terra: Jason Matthews

The Terras now go into their hectic Christmas programme in good spirits following a well-earned point at promotion-chasing Stafford Rangers, the mood in the camp would been even more buoyant had they converted just one of many gilt-edged chances that came their way. The only worry on the immediate horizon is the battered body of Mark Robinson who will be struggling to make the Boxing day fixture at Tiverton, although young Mark Whiteman certainly gave boss Geoff Butler another option.

Stafford Rangers::
Ryan Price, Clarkson, Richard Beale, Lee Barrow, Wayne Daniel, Craig Lovatt, Petty,
Robert Heath, Dennis Bailey (Robin Gibson 36), Szewczyk (Craig McAughtrie 76), Alfie Carter (Jones 87)

Jason Matthews, Steve Tully (Michael Dean 84), Toby Redwood, Mark Kenway, John Waldock, Matthew Hale,
Mark Robinson (Marc Whiteman 57), Ian Hutchinson, Danny Bailey, Michael Sajic, Lee Phillips.

Referee: G.A. Aston ( Wall Heath)
Assistants: S.K. Checketts ( Brierley Hill ), K.I. Morgan ( Stourbridge )

Attendance: 811

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