Duff breaks Bash resolve for Terras
WEYMOUTH comfortably extended their winning run to five consecutive games with a solitary first half strike from Craig Duff in front of a Boxing Day crowd who had to brave a mixture of wind and rain at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The conditions were never going to make this game a classic and credit had to go to the ground staff and a team of volunteers who had got down to the ground early to ensure the game could actually go ahead at all.
Before the game the crowd of 820 gave club legend Stan Charlton, who sadly passed away just before the Christmas holiday, a rous-ing minute’s applause.
There were no surprises on the team-sheet with Brendon King able to keep faith with an unchanged side for the fourth time in succession and even the bench is picking itself these days with exactly the same five substitutes named as the previous two games.
After losing the Kettering game over the weekend to the weather the Terras looked a little rusty and subdued in the early stages of the game.
Indeed both sides were struggling to cope with the difficult, swirling wind and the conditions hardly helped the game as a spectacle with far too many long balls played in a cagey opening half-hour.
The hosts dominated proceedings from the off but rarely threatened although Scott Walker’s fifth minute corner had to be fisted away by visiting keeper Stuart Moore.
A second corner moments later was easily nodded clear by James Stokoe and then when Mark Ford was felled near the corner, Walker’s subsequent free-kick was easily headed away by Matt Finlay.
In the 18th minute, the Bash briefly threatened when Rob Gradwell slipped in Mark Gamble but Ashley Wells came to the rescue with a well-timed challenge and from the resulting Andy Jenkinson corner, Simon Evans punched clear.
Two minutes later Duff won two corners in a matter of seconds that came to nothing before a disappointing delivery from Walker at a free-kick that failed to beat the first man summed up a very subdued and flat opening half-hour.
It was pretty tedious stuff but then a much-needed opening goal arrived just past the half-hour mark after burly centre-back Tim Stephenson crudely took out Mark Ford 30 yards from goal.
Amazingly Stephenson was let-off with a ticking off but the Bash did not go unpunished as Walker hammered in a low driven free-kick which Moore could only spill out invitingly to Duff who hammered the loose ball into the roof of the net.
From that point, the Terras comfortably dominated the final ex-changes of the half with Joyce playing in Ford in the 36th minute only for Stephenson to slide the ball away to safety.
Duff was harshly booked three minutes later for a foul no worse than Stephenson’s on Ford moments earlier and then the rest of the half petered out with very little incident.
After the break the pattern of play continued with Weymouth comfortably controlling the game but rarely getting beyond second gear.
Four minutes in, Reed teed up Duff and his shot brought a decent save out of Moore low to his left at the expense of a corner.
Then, good movement allowed Joyce an early shot that flew well wide before Bashley fashioned their first opportunity of the entire game in the 57th minute when Stokoe’s speculative effort flew hopelessly wide.
Just past the hour mark, Walker saw a free-kick headed over his own goal by a defender and then, just two minutes later, a Walker corner was met by a full-blooded header from Ed Palmer that was pushed away by the keeper.
Midway through the half, a long punt from Simon Evans swirled in the wind before finding the feet of Ford who manoevred the ball well before finding space to cross low for the inrushing Joyce who could not quite connect on the slide for what would have certainly been a second goal.
Evans easily gathered a header from Stephenson in the 84th minute and then was able to get Ford racing away down the left flank for a nearly identical move that again ended with a low centre that Joyce was able to connect with on this occasion.
However, the in-form striker was unable to get enough purchase with a stabbed effort from point-blank range that Moore was able to comfortably push away.
As the hosts looked content to keep possession late on, Joyce laid a ball back for Reed in the 90th minute that saw the midfielder hit the bar with a curling side-footer that had Moore well beaten and, following three further minutes of added time, there were no nervous moments as the Terras deservedly held on to all three points.