PHILIPS ON THE SPOT TO KEEP TERRAS CUP DREAM ALIVE
WEYMOUTH 4 MERTHYR TYDFIL 2 (AET) WEYMOUTH can still dream of a quadruple trophy success this season after seeing off Merthyr Tydfil after extra-time in this third round Dr Martens League Cup clash last night.
Steve Claridge’s much-changed side were forced to come from behind at the Wessex Stadium to book their place in the last 16.
Lee Phillips’ last-gasp penalty hauled them level in normal time before loan star Andy Lindegaard and Scott Partridge secured victory in the extra 30 minutes.
Yeovil asset Lindegaard and tigerish fringe midfielder Kevin Gill both impressed for the Terras who made seven changes from the side which beat Chelmsford at the weekend.
What made the victory even more impressive was that it came against a Welsh outfit who were at full strength having notched up three straight league wins.
Merthyr must be sick of the sight of Claridge’s charges having now conceded 15 goals in four outings against them this term.
The latest came within three minutes as Weymouth got off to a real flyer.
Luke Nightingale fed the eager Gill who whipped in a superb zipping cross that the unlucky Kevin Aherne-Evans turned home past his own keeper Neil Thomas.
The Terras continued to make all the running and a powerful Scott Partridge drive was not a million miles away from doubling their advantage.
Ian Hutchinson fed Robinson moments later who played a superb defence-splitting pass for right wing back Nightingale.
The former Portsmouth youngster looked odds on to hit the target but wildly pulled his shot wide of Thomas’ near post.
There was little sign of what was to follow as the Welsh side failed to make any serious impression.
It seemed like Weymouth would cruise into the next round as they continued to create chance after chance.
Hutchinson flashed a header narrowly wide midway through the opening period and Gill floated a chip against the bar moments later.
Thomas again had to get his knees dirty just before the break when Partridge turned neatly before crashing a volley goalwards.
But Merthyr, who were yet to test home keeper Jason Matthews, were gifted an equaliser on 43 minutes that came totally out of the blue.
Lee John’s long diagonal ball from the right was handled by defender Scott Dennis, under pressure by giant striker Cortez Belle, and referee Andrew Newell had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Belle confidently stroked home the penalty and within 60 seconds of the restart the in-form visitors took a shock lead.
Gill was adjudged to have fouled Aherne-Evans on the edge of his own box and John drilled home Gary Thorne’s lay off from the resulting free-kick.
Aherne-Evans did his best to make up for his earlier error with a couple of efforts from the edge of the box that went close early in the second half.
Claridge then made changes to try and force a way back into the tie with Lee Phillips sent on to pep up the attack and Martin Barlow to stiffen up the midfield.
But it was the visitors who created the better openings despite Weymouth enjoying more of the play.
Dean Clarke’s deflected drive looped just wide before a flowing counter ended with Keddle blazing over from a promising position.
At the other end, Lindegaard’s forceful run saw him drive into the box but fail to finish off his good work.
With Weymouth throwing bodies forward, Merthyr had chances to make it safe as Matthews saved from Aherne-Evans and Whitcombe in quick succession.
But just as it seemed the home side would be going out of the competition, they were given a last minute reprieve.
Phillips converted from the spot after substitute Steve Tully was blocked off just inside the box by Adrian Needs.
The Terras had Simon Browne to thank for keeping them in it in stoppage time as he nicked the ball off John’s toes as the striker bore down on goal.
But if they failed to make the most of their possession in normal time, the hosts certainly made it pay in extra-time.
Partridge’s teasing run and cross after 100 minutes found Lindegaard who skinned a couple of defenders before firing low past Thomas.
The leg-weary visitors created precious little after that and Weymouth made the game safe in the last minute.
Thomas, who ventured forward in Merthyr’s bid to find an equaliser, lost possession to Robinson deep in Weymouth territory who sent Partridge away.
The former Bristol City player had the simple job of running on and tapping into an empty for probably the easiest goal of his career.