GREAT GADSBY PUTS AN END TO TERRAS DREAMS
WEYMOUTH don’t like Forests.
After the Nottingham version knocked the Terras out of the FA Cup, Green Rovers did the trick in the FA Trophy.
The Conference National strugglers became only the second visiting team to win at the Wessex Stadium in 17 games and left Weymouth with Conference South promotion to concentrate on in 2006.
Matt Gadsby’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time sealed the Gloucestershire outfit’s deserved first round victory over the below-par hosts.
While Terras boss Garry Hill will hope the defeat is nothing more than a blip, there were a few concerning aspects for the former Hornchurch manager to ponder over the Christmas turkey.
Forest Green’s giant striker Julian Alsop dominated Weymouth’s defence particularly in the opening half, shrugging off markers like he was King Kong.
At the other end of the pitch strikers Kirk Jackson and Chukki Eribenne struggled to make much impact against a lowly side who have conceded plenty this season.
But on the up side for Weymouth, it’s a measure of how far they’ve come in the last few months that a defeat against higher league oppositions causes raised eyebrows.
Hill sprung a surprise before kick off by resting regular
keeper Jason Matthews and giving a rare start to Aaron Lee-Barratt.
The summer signing from Cardiff City’s only previous appearances came in Terras opening games of this season and in the early exchanges he looked rusty.
Forest Green, who tasted success for the first time in eight outings last week, started brightly and immediately had Lee-Barratt under pressure.
Rovers boss Gary Owers predicted his side would be direct and it proved that way in the early stages.
A long Gadsby throw from the right flank was flicked on by Alsop to Ben Harding whose low drive was straight at Lee-Barratt.
All the action continued to come from the giant Alsop who won everything in the air and nearly opened the scoring himself but his shot lacked power.
Weymouth just couldn’t get to grips with Alsop who thought he had put the visitors ahead on 12 minutes when he nodded home Harding’s corner.
But referee Andrew Rodda came to the Terras rescue when he blew up for a foul on the nervy Lee Barratt.
Home skipper Matt Bound and co were having to work over-time dealing with cross after cross and from one of the centres the unmarked Paul Wanless headed wide from close range.
Weymouth struggled to create anything – it took 22 minutes for Hill’s men to register a shot on goal.
Shaun Wilkinson fired over after Steve Tully’s right-wing cross which was shortly followed by Lee Elam dragging an effort wide from the edge of the area.
But the hosts’s usually rock-solid defence continued to look shaky and were nearly punished when Wanless curled a 35-yard free kick the wrong side of the upright.
Forest Green were almost handed a gift opening goal on 33 minutes after a horrendous mix-up in the Terras backline involving Tully and Lee-Barratt.
Alsop was the man to profit by picking up the loose ball and firing goalwards but skipper Bound got back in time to turn away.
Weymouth’s frustrating opening half was summed up when Elam tricked his way past marker
Damon Searle only to see his inviting cross flash across the area unopposed.
Apart from Eribenne’s tame header, Forest Green continued to do all the running after the break and really should have gone ahead on 56 minutes.
Unmarked substitute Scott Rendall, only on moments earlier for cramp victim Abbey, was released with a cracking pass and had time and space in the area.
His first effort was smothered by Lee-Barratt only for the striker to seize on the loose ball and this time lash his shot against the bar.
That acted as a brief wake-up call for the hosts who were fuming with referee Rodda when he failed to penalise centre half Luke Graham for what appeared to be a clear back-pass when under pressure from Jackson.
By the hour mark Rovers keeper Ryan Clarke had still not been seriously troubled as Hill’s men toiled away without any end product.
Weymouth were become increasingly desperate and withdrew battling mid-fielder Wilkinson for the eager Brian Dutton.
The change seemed to do the trick and spark the hosts into life and it was was the substitute who nearly broke the deadlock minutes later.
Dutton got the faintest of headers on Harris’ free kick only to see Clarke pull off a superb reaction save at point-blank range.
That prompted a spell of pressure from the hosts, Clarke kept out decent headers from O’Brien and then Jackson.
Dutton then became the latest home player to head goalwards in a crowded area, but his effort was off target.
The game appeared to be drifting towards a replay tomorrow night, when Owers threw on substitute Bruno Teixeira.
And the change proved an inspired one as the Portugese replacement played a big part in Forest Green’s winner three minutes into stoppage time.
Teixeira found space down the right, picked out Gadsby with a terrific cross for the midfielder to crack an unstoppable past Lee-Barratt from 25 yards to seal victory.