Ford’s back with a bang for Terras
MARK Ford showed exactly what the Terras have been missing of late as his first-half double on his return from injury proved just enough to fend off the challenge of plucky Bedworth.
The lethal marksman, who had missed the recent trips to Gosport and Totton while nursing a hand injury, hit a quick-fire brace as Weymouth bossed the first half only to be pegged back by Mitchell Piggon’s hotly-disputed strike early in the second half.
In truth, the hosts looked stunned at this set-back and gave a lacklustre showing until the latter stages of the match but were still able to hold on to three points and secure their first Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division victory since the 3-1 defeat of St Neots at the end of December.
Boss Brendon King brought Ashley Wells, who had been unavailable in mid-week, straight back into the defence in place of Kyle Critchell, who dropped to the bench.
The only other change saw Ford spearhead the attack in place of Matt Groves, who was named in the substitutes alongside Matt Morley and Jamie Skinner while Lewis Clarke was declared unavailable.
The hosts wasted no time in getting on the front foot and from their first attacking foray a searching Stephen Reed centre proved just too long for Danny Clay in the third minute.
Seconds later, Ford neatly knocked down to Ben Joyce who could not quite round keeper Andy Kemp who strectched out an arm to avert the imminent danger.
The positive start from the Terras continued with a speculative drive from Joyce whistling wide after five minutes but the opening goal looked very much on the cards and it duly arrived a minute later.
Ford played an incisive exchange with Joyce and, once the ball was returned to him, the former drove low beyond Kemp from just inside the box to open the scoring.
That goal came from the hosts’ first shot on target and from their next effort Weymouth went two ahead a quarter of an hour later.
Smith sent over a deep, searching cross which centre-back Nathan Haines stretched to head away but in doing so he only found Ford lurking on the edge of the box and, as the ball dropped, the striker completed his brace with a well-timed volley that flew past Kemp.
It was one-way traffic at this point and it looked like the Terras would take a commanding lead into the break but for the heroics of the visiting keeper.
In the 24th minute, Reed intercepted a square pass 25 yards from goal before flicking in Ford who looked poised to complete a quick-fire hat-trick.
However, Kemp was alert to the danger and pulled off a top-drawer block as he charged from his line, but within two minutes his goal was under threat once again as the hosts laid siege following a Reed corner.
Both Palmer and then Reed himself saw fierce shots bravely blocked by defenders on the edge of the area straight after each other.
After that the action calmed down as the Terras comfortably held on to their two-goal cushion without United mustering a single attempt at a virtually redundant Simon Evans.
All that was to change though, straight after the restart as the Greenbacks came flying out of the blocks to completely change the complexion of the game within four minutes.
Just 30 seconds in, winger Richard Wesley warmed the gloves of Evans with a daisycutter from 20 yards and then, three minutes later, the Terras were stunned when offside appeals were ignored as United pulled a goal back. Striker Piggon was slipped through the middle and allowed to round Evans to tuck home, while last man Wells had his armed raised appealing for offside.
The linesman’s flag never came and the goal made for a highly un-comfortable second half for the Ter-ras who were completely knocked out of their stride.
In the 53rd minute, it looked like a little luck would come the hosts way when, from a lofted Reed free-kick, Ed Palmer headed the ball against the outstretched arm of full-back Haines.
The linesman on the far side appeared to indicate a penalty but referee Russell did not take the time to consult with him and just awarded a corner instead, much to the disbelief of the Terras’ faithful.
Buoyed by the goal, Bedworth looked far more threatening going forward and, following a fast break, Rikki Bains pulled the ball back from the byline for Wesley to strike a low drive that smashed against the foot of Evans’ right-hand upright.
Then, in the 69th minute, a rising shot from Martin Hutchcox sailed over the bar before another dangerous centre from Wesley saw Alex Dean hook an effort just a foot wide of the same post.
Fifteen minutes from time the visitors still believed they could find an equaliser as Piggon found room on the edge of the box to get in a strike that whizzed once more a foot wide of that post.
At the other end, substitute Jamie Skinner’s neat footwork in the centre of the park began a promising break, whereby Smith released Joyce down the left channel and his square ball towards Ford had to be blocked for a corner.
In the 85th minute, Bedworth substitute David Blenkinsopp was afforded time to fire low at Evans but, fortunately, it was an easy gather for the Weymouth number one.
The action then switched again as Palmer thrashed in a venomous free-kick that flew through the wall before being blocked by Kemp with his feet when, in truth, the keeper knew very little about the shot at all.
The hosts finished the game as they had started it, in the ascendancy, and two minutes into added time a delightful move 30 yards from goal going left to right, ended with another good chance going begging as Craig Duff teed up Reed.
His low drive arrowed fractionally wide of an upright into the side-netting but it had been refreshing to see the Terras attack to the final whistle instead of being content to run down the clock.