Terras out of luck at Cambridge
ED Palmer saw red as the Terras experienced an afternoon to forget at the City Ground.
Weymouth created just as many chances as fellow play-off contenders Cambridge City but Lady Luck deserted them as goals from David Prada and Robbie Nightingale put a huge dent in their promotion ambitions.
Brendon King kept faith with the same starting XI that overcame Frome Town in midweek, but there was one change on the bench where skipper Scott Walker returned from injury to replace Lewis Clarke, who turned out for the reserves.
Having lost just two of their last eight on the road, the Terras went into the game with a fair amount of confidence against a Cambridge side looking to get back on track following just one win in four.
Back-to-back victories over Bed-worth and the Robins had certainly revitalised King’s men over the past week but they were soon up against it when City grabbed an early lead after just five minutes.
Clever work from Adam Marriott foxed Ashley Wells on the edge of the box and when keeper Simon Evans could only parry the resulting strike there was Prada to fire home on the rebound.
It was a huge early setback for the visitors on a wretched playing surface, but they appeared to shrug it off pretty quickly with Barry McConnell and Dan Smith combining to set up an opening for Joyce, whose shot went straight into the arms of the grateful Zac Barr ett.
Despite being ahead City still seemed cagey and as a consequence the Terras continued to mount pressure with Mark Ford being denied by a fine save, and Palmer seeing a shot deflect over the crossbar.
Joyce then fired another attempt narrowly wide before Tom Pepper went on a superb run at the other end, only to see his shot flash across the face of goal.
That near miss seemed to liven up the hosts and moments later they went close again when Liam Hurst pulled the back across from the left to Craig Hammond. City’s top scorer looked in an ideal position to test Evans but his shot was poor and gobbled up by a routine save.
Weymouth then went on another surge in the closing eight minutes of the half with Kyle Critchell shooting just over and Stephen Reed being kept out by some desperate defending.
The Terras also had a huge shout for a penalty turned down for what appeared to be a clear handball in the box, following McConnell’s flick amidst a goalmouth scramble, before the last action of the half saw Palmer enter the book for a mis-timed challenge.
Weymouth were very unfortunate to be behind at the break and in the early stages of the second half it nearly got even worse when Ieuan Lewis struck the top of the crossbar after being afforded far too much space.
The Terras clearly needed to wake up and close to the hour they did exactly that when Smith and Joyce combined to play in Ford, who couldn’t quite get there before the onrushing Barrett.
King’s men looked like they were going to get on top again, but on 62 minutes, disaster struck when another late tackle from Palmer saw him receive his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Weymouth immediately reshuffled following that dismissal with Craig Duff replacing Smith but it was City that were now in the ascendancy, with Wells having to pull off a superb tackle just moments later to stop Marriott racing clean through.
Further changes by the away side saw Matt Groves and Walker replace Ford and Clay with 15 minutes remaining, but unsurprisingly it was still Cambridge that were on top with Evans producing an incredible point-blank save to deny Hammond.
City refused to let up though and on 80 minutes they got their reward when Sam Poole upended Marriott in the box allowing Nightingale to lash home the resulting penalty.
The Terras had every right to feel a little hard done by at the final whistle, but City’s more experienced heads told in the end, as one team’s hopes of a top-five finish suffered a big setback while the other’s received a huge boost.