Halesowen’s Slip Saves Terras From Relegation
Weymouth might have secured their Dr Martens Premier Division status, but it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
Geoff Butler’s men went into their last home game of the season knowing victory over Hastings United would end their relegation fears once and for all.
With a minute to go, the Terras were on target to achieve just that thanks to Steve Tully’s opener midway through the first half.
However disaster struck in the 90th minute when Nick Hegley arrived to head home an equaliser for the visitors.
Suddenly it looked like Weymouth would be travelling to Crawley Town on Saturday again needing maximum points to avoid the drop.
With the Wessex Stadium public address system still out of action, Terras fans had to endure an agonising wait before news of fellow strugglers Halesowen’s failure to beat Folkestone Invicta finally filtered through.
With the Yeltz only collecting a point from a 2-2 draw at Cheriton Road, it means the Midlands outfit can no longer catch the Terras who live to fight another day in the Premier Division.
As a game of football, this one was probably the worst seen at the Radipole Lane this season.
While Hastings, who had to win to stand any hope of staying up themselves, simply weren’t good enough to offer much in the way of quality, Weymouth just didn’t seem interested in doing likewise.
Tully’s goal was a bit special however, and it came after United keeper Dave King had been penalised for handling just outside his area.
With the ball placed right on the 18-yard line, the former Torquay United youngster stepped up and blasted his effort straight through the middle of a six-man wall and into the back of the net.
Driving rain then made a poor first half even worse although it was the Sussex side who had the best of the chances.
They included a glancing header by Landry Zahana-Oni that crept just inches wide on 27 minutes, while a brilliant covering tackle by skipper John Waldock denied Ellis Remy a certain leveller just before the break.
The Terras dominated for long periods following the restart with Lee Phillips, Phil Andrews and David Laws wasting at least two glorious opportunities each to stretch their side’s advantage.
But just when it appeared Tully’s lone strike would prove decisive, Hegley threw a massive spanner into the works.
A number of Weymouth players were guilty of stopping when the ball appeared to have gone out of play just in front of the dug outs, but United substitute Chris Honey decided to play to the whistle which never came. He burst down the right before clipping an inch-perfect cross to the far post where Hegley strolled in to nod the visitors level.
The four minutes of injury time that followed were frantic to say the least.
Laws did put the ball in the net for Weymouth only to be ruled offside, while Zahana-Oni wasn’t a million miles away with a snap shot at the other end.
When referee Martin Ebbage finally blew time, it was two sorry looking sides that exited towards the dressing rooms.
Hastings misery was to continue all the way back to Sussex with their immediate return to the Eastern Division confirmed.
Weymouth’s players however, were soon smiling again albeit thanks to the efforts of Folkestone, not their own.
Jason Matthews, Steve Tully 1, Lee Russell (Simon Browne), Jamie Impey,
John Waldock (c), Toby Redwood, Phil Andrews, Ian Hutchinson, Danny Bailey, Lee Phillips.
Subs not used: Alex Browne, Leon Green, Ryan Ashford
Referee: Martin Ebbage (Waterlooville)
Assistants: David Beamont, Paul Byfield (both Bournemouth)