Play-off race to go down to final day after derby draw
By Dan Rose
|WEYMOUTH will take their play-off bid to the final day of the season after sealing a point in a goalless Dorset derby with Poole at the Bob Lucas Stadium.The Terras have to beat Biggleswade on Saturday and hope St Neots lose against Frome if they are to sneak into the top five.
Meanwhile, Poole got the point they needed to return to the top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division at Corby’s expense.
Weymouth boss Jason Matthews named an unchanged starting XI for what he described in the build-up as a must-win clash with the Dolphins.
That meant former Poole full-back Neil Martin was left to settle for a spot on the bench against his former club.
The visitors handed a start to former Torquay United goalkeeper Jordan Seabright in place of regular gloveman Nick Hutchings, who was ruled out through injury.
Matthews was off his line quickly to snuff out a cross from former Terra Luke Burbidge during an opening 10 minutes where both sides looked to settle.
The Dolphins’ wideman, who caused the Terras all sorts of problems in the reverse fixture at Tatnam earlier in the campaign, was at it again when he beat his man on the right and drilled in a low cross which was cleared by Ashley Wells.
Former Magpies’ midfielder Steve Devlin then looked to release team-mate Burbidge, who thought he had sprung the hosts’ offside trap when he raced forward but was eventually denied by an assistant’s flag.
Seabright was then tested by Chris Shephard’s devilish delivery from a corner, but the Dolphins’ stopper was up to the task, plucking the ball out of the air when under pressure.
Devlin’s first-time volley from range fell well wide of the mark as neither side managed to fashion anything clear-cut throughout the opening 25 minutes.
In a bid to spark the contest into life, Weymouth’s George Rigg linked up well with Shephard, but the former Exeter City youngster lifted the ball over the bar.
Roles were then reversed when Shephard turned provider for Rigg, who had acres of space to motor into before flashing an effort across goal.
With both sides trying to stamp their authority on the contest, Poole skipper Jamie Whisken then failed to hit the target after Devlin’s corner eventually fell to him at the back post in what was probably the visitors’ best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes.
Rigg forced keeper Seabright to tip the ball over the crossbar when his looping header caused panic just before the break.
Terras’ top scorer Stewart Yetton found an opening soon after the interval, but the sprawling Weymouth skipper’s header failed to hit the target.
A slick Dolphins counter then called Matthews into making a save at full stretch.
After experienced marksman Richard Gillespie had galloped forward and found Harrison Gilkes to his left, the latter’s effort on goal forced a sharp stop from the player-manager.
Poole’s Gilkes then got himself in a tangle with Dean Evans as the pair raced down the touchline, and both were booked after the pair squared up to each other.
The Dolphins then thought they had broken the deadlock just past the hour mark.
Captain Whisken powered home a header into the bottom corner, only for the effort to be chalked off for offside – a flare was thrown on to the field of play as the visiting fans celebrated prematurely.
Former Poole man Adam Kelly was then introduced by the Terras in place of Rigg, and Evans’ hooked ball forward almost set up Yetton for something special.
The hosts’ hitman unleashed a vicious right-foot strike across goal which whistled just past the top corner.
Gilkes’ night was then up when he was replaced by former Dorchester Town loanee Mason Walsh, and soon after Alec Fiddes, Weymouth’s hero when the sides met in the Dorset Senior Cup earlier this season, was introduced for the home side.
Yetton then headed wide once more when Seabright raced off his line to claim a corner and Devlin cleared off the line as Weymouth threw the kitchen sink at the Dolphins late on.