Mills strike hits Weymouth’s play-off hopes
By Dorset ECHO
|A POWERFUL strike from Corby’s Greg Mills proved the difference as spirited Weymouth’s play-off ambitions took a huge hit at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
In a clash which had massive implications on both the race for the title and the play-offs, the Steelmen managed to hold their nerve during a contest which Weymouth more than played their part.
Player-manager Jason Matthews made two changes to the Terras’ starting XI. Tim Sills and Dean Evans both returned after serving three-match bans in place of Steve Colwell and Alec Fiddes.
Jordan Copp retained his spot at left-back ahead of Neil Martin, and central-defender Jamie Laird was named on the bench after recovering from a bout of illness. Ashley Wells was also declared fit after picking up a knock in midweek.
Chris Shephard was flagged marginally offside as he looked to give Weymouth an electric opening to the contest but, minutes later, it was the Steelmen who fashioned the opening chance.
A ball from deep drifted on the breeze and allowed Elliott Chamberlain to nip in front of his man.
The Corby frontman, who had a spell on loan at Dorchester Town last season, did well to prod the ball past Matthews, but his effort rolled just wide in front of a strong travelling contingent.
The visitors looked fired up for the encounter and were using the wind to their advantage in the opening 15 minutes but the Weymouth offside trap continued to work well.
Evans was then given a stern talking to by referee Samuel Allison after a late challenge on Shane Byrne, but he escaped a caution from the match official.
The first half-opportunity for the home side then came on 23 minutes when captain Stewart Yetton got the better of full-back Stephan Morley on the right flank and his ball across goal in search of Sills was snuffed out by Corby keeper Paul Walker, who raced briskly off his line.
Shephard then showed his annoyance once again as he was adjudged to be offside when put through once again on the half hour.
A neat breakaway move from Matthews’ men then saw the ball spread out wide for Yetton, who had galloped down the right once more.
His cross found George Rigg, whose cushion header allowed Evans to strike on the volley, but he was thwarted by a great block from a covering defender.
As the hosts grew into the game, it was Shephard who came within inches of breaking the deadlock.
After good work from Sills once again, the Weymouth playmaker ghosted past his man and steered inches wide of the far post, as the sides reached the interval level after an entertaining first half.
Some trickery from Shephard forced a free-kick for the home side soon after the break but Corby eventually stabbed the ball away from danger.
Corby then threatened on the counter as captain Cleveland Taylor found dangerman Spencer Weir-Daley, but Matthews came off his line to prevent the striker, who has recently played international football for Montserrat.
Weymouth skipper Yetton then failed to hit the target as Corby were caught by a goal kick which ballooned on the breeze.
Taylor tested Matthews with a well-struck free-kick which looked to be goalbound, but the Terras’ boss managed to tip the ball on to the crossbar as the Steelmen came the closest on the hour mark.
Evans, who looked lively on his return to the side, then went close once again for the Terras as he snuck to the back post and headed over when unmarked, and another effort from Yetton deflected wide after Sills pounced on a poor goal kick from gloveman Walker.
The Steelmen then had shouts for handball waved away by referee Allison with 15 minutes to go.
Colwell then replaced Evans and Copp received a caution for a late challenge as both sides pushed for a winner.
And despite Weymouth arguably having the better of it, it was the Steelmen who broke the deadlock on 83 minutes through Mills.
The midfielder found space on the edge of the Terras’ area after tussling with Brooks, and he drilled the ball into the bottom corner past Matthews to send the travelling fans delirious.
Substitutes Alec Fiddes and Adam Kelly were introduced soon after the opener, and the latter nearly found a leveller when his daisy-cutter was grasped by Walker.
Mills then almost added to his tally late on and forced a top-drawer save from Matthews, and the Weymouth keeper was then involved at the other end in one final throw of the dice to seal a point.
He advanced forward and flicked on a corner into the path of McPhee, whose acrobatic effort was blocked on the line in the dying moments.