Misery as 10-man City frustrate Terras
WEYMOUTH’S wretched home form continued as they were left frustrated by a well-organised Cambridge outfit who took all the points thanks to a spectacular 25-yard strike from Yiuan Lewis midway through the second half.
The Terras failed to build on the progress they had made at St Albans the previous week, and that, despite playing against 10-men for nearly an hour of the game after City’s leading marksman Craig Hammond had been red-carded for violent conduct.
And the manner of this latest home reverse will not resonate too well with the club’s faithful who have now seen their team lose three big games at the Bob Lucas Stadium in quick succession with unbeaten Leamington the next visitors this Saturday.
In fairness, the hosts had to field a makeshift defence with none of their three recognised centre-backs available due to suspension.
Kyle Critchell, Sam Poole and Ed Palmer all started against St Albans but had to sit this one out, which meant boss Brendon King had to shuffle his depleted pack to put out a makeshift defensive quartet.
As expected skipper Scott Walker dropped to left-back and Lewis Clarke returned to the starting line-up as the other full-back.
Fortunately the highly experienced Barry McConnell made a timely return to the ranks and he partnered Ashley Wells, who had only returned to the starting XI from a long injury lay-off the previous week, in the heart of the defence.
Another bonus was the inclusion of frontrunner Dan Smith but the suspensions had clearly taken it’s toll on the bench as a trio of reserves – Charlie Holland, Louis Smith and Lee Sharpe – were named alongside Matt Groves and second choice keeper Chris Povall.
The Terras were eager to continue the momentum gained from their fine win at St Albans and during the first 10 minutes they kept City on the back foot, earning a number of corners in the process.
From one of these, Mark Ford acrobatically launched an overhead kick goalwards in the sixth minute but Zac Barrett was alert and beat the ball away with a top-drawer reaction save.
A minute later a corner from Stephen Reed was headed towards goal by Craig Duff at the back post but nobody in the home ranks could force the ball over the line and it was eventually scrambled clear.
The visitors first response came after 17 minutes as Lewis cut inside Duff before letting fly a drive that flew over the top but the action soon switched to the other end again as Weymouth earned their sixth corner three minutes later.
However, Reed’s dangerous flag kick had to be headed behind by Dave Theobald and the Terras next threatened in the 28th minute when Ford latched on to a long ball down the left, cut in past two defenders only to see his eventual shot blocked.
On the half-hour, Hammond, who had been cautioned for dissent three minutes earlier, was in the spotlight again when he felled Smith.
Reed’s subsequent free-kick was frustratingly poor while Hammond was lucky not to be red-carded at that point and it was clear that the City bench were keen to withdraw him straight after.
However, they never got the chance as moments later Hammond was involved in an off-the-ball incident with Danny Clay, which left the Terras’ midfielder sprawled on the floor with tempers flaring all around.
Confusion reigned for around three minutes while the referee carefully considered his options before electing to send off Hammond for an apparent head-butt on Clay.
Despite this set-back, City went on the offensive but Simon Evans in the home goal confidently punched clear a free-kick from Nightingale and then, seconds later, easily gathered a long-range effort from the City skipper.
The last decent chance of the half fell to the hosts when Duff and Smith linked up well for the latter to whistle in a low drive that flew just past the right-hand upright with Barrett stranded.
The second half proceeded with very few clear-cut chances created at either end after Nightingale saw a rising effort fly well over five minutes in.
Two minutes later, Clarke could not quite get enough purchase on his header from another Reed corner before City threatened again only for Luke Allen to overhit their final ball following some quality link-up play.
Either side of the hour mark, Reed let fly with an effort that whizzed well wide and there was more frustration as Barrett easily gathered a Smith free-kick.
A winning goal from either side looked unlikely and it came totally out of the blue when it did arrive in the 68th minute.
The Terras had failed to clear their lines effectively when Nightingale picked up the ball before laying off to Lewis who smashed in a thunderous 25-yarder that beat Evans all ends up.
Weymouth responded by sacrificing Clarke for Groves in an attempt to salvage a point but from that point on they looked ever more subdued, lacking any confidence in the final third.
Groves very nearly levelled it though in the 76th minute when he span quickly in the box but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Barrett at close quarters and the ball was deflected wide.
The Terras’ complete lack of quality was summed up six minutes later when Walker sent a free-kick high over the bar while City could have added a second three minutes from time when Luke Allen’s strong run from the halfway line ended with a lukewarm shot straight at Evans.