Weymouth go level on points at the top after Arlesey victory
By Dorset ECHO
WEYMOUTH will be level on points at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division going into the New Year after they soundly dealt with struggling Arlesey at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
Two goals in three minutes from skipper Stewart Yetton, including another from the penalty spot, put his side in the box seat at the break and a second-half strike from winger Alec Fiddes on his first start for the club secured the win just short of the hour.
The hosts made three changes from their gruelling Boxing Day derby victory over Dorchester Town as Fiddes started in place of Tim Sills.
Steve Colwell and Sam Poole also came into the side replacing the suspended Jamie Laird and Calvin Brooks, whose loan deal had expired from Yeovil Town. The changes meant that Chris McPhee would once again fill in at centre-half.
Arlesey came to the Bob Lucas Stadium sitting in 23rd spot in the division, with 10 league defeats on the road to their name already throughout the campaign.
They did however boast a former Premier League star in striker Dave Kitson among their ranks, who had returned to the club along with boss Nick Ironton earlier in the month.
With an unfamiliar backline, it was a nervy start for the Terras as Poole gifted the ball to Nathan Hillaire, who surged forward and fired wide of the mark when his strike partner Hallelujah Basmel was well placed inside the area.
But after slowly finding their feet in the early stages, Weymouth soon began to show their superiority going forward.
A sweeping ball from Chris Shephard found Fiddes, and as his cross from the left was half cleared, it fell to Adam Kelly, who tested Blues’ stopper Nick Thompson for the first time in the game.
Fiddes then continued to cause problems as he linked up well with Yetton, and came close when trying to place the ball into the top corner.
Ashley Wells and Chris Shephard then combined on the opposite flank, as the former skipped away from his man and picked out his team-mate in acres of space inside the area.
But Shephard’s low drive was well saved by Thompson, who got down well to thwart the Terras’ playmaker with his feet midway through the half.
The hosts continued to knock on the door and, in a repeat of Boxing Day at the Avenue, they took the lead from the penalty spot.
Kelly went down inside the area after tussling with Arlesey’s Dave Corran, and after taking his time to make his decision and looking at his assistant for guidance, Dorchester official Mark Derrien awarded the spot kick.
Up stepped Stewart Yetton to stroke home his third penalty in two games.
The captain was not finished as he then added his second of the afternoon just two minutes later.
Sublime trickery from Shephard allowed him to stand the ball up precisely for his skipper, who made no mistake in heading home to make it 2-0.
George Rigg then came within inches of making it three as he unleashed a powerful strike which rattled the upright, and there was a moment of controversy at the other end which could have changed the whole complexion of the afternoon.
Seconds after Rigg hit the bar, Basmel was clean through at the other end charging through on goal.
He was wiped out by Weymouth player-manager Jason Matthews, who was only given a yellow card for his troubles with no replacement gloveman on the bench, as both players received treatment.
Following the break, the Terras started to cut their counterparts open at will.
Shephard’s mazy run saw him lift the ball just over, and you would have backed Yetton to seal his hat-trick when Fiddes cut the ball back to him inside the area, but uncharacteristically, he blazed over.
The visitors’ day was summed up just short of the hour when Harley Kelly found himself seven yards out ready to shoot on goal unchallenged, but failed to control the ball as the linesman’s flag stayed down.
And to rub salt into the wounds of the visitors, Fiddes got his first goal for the club on 57 minutes. He latched on to a loose ball in the area after Yetton’s shot was blocked from a well-worked corner from the hosts.
Poole then needed to be replaced after he suffered a broken nose, causing more problems for the Terras at the heart of their defence. Ashley Wells filled in alongside McPhee for the remainder of the contest.
McPhee’s challenge on Basmel then earned him a late booking, but he made up for the rash challenge almost instantly by stabbing Hillaire’s header off the line from the resulting free-kick, as the home side comfortably secured another three points.
The result means that Matthews’ men go into the New Year in the box seat, level on points at the top of the table with a game in hand on leaders Poole Town.