McPhee strikes late to grab Weymouth a point
CHRIS McPhee’s late strike ensured Weymouth sealed a point in what was a hard-fought battle with St Neots Town at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The Terras’ player-coach, who skippered the side for the day in place of club captain Stewart Yetton, bundled home George Rigg’s free-kick in front of the home fans to cancel out Tom Meechan’s 77th minute opener.
The last time the two sides locked horns in league action, striker Yetton was on target at the Bob Lucas Stadium to give the Terras a 1-0 win.
But with no Yetton in the squad this time around due to unavailability, the home side handed a start to new signing Ben Thomson, who came in to make his debut.
He joined Ashley Wells, Chris McPhee and Billy Lowes as they returned to the starting XI in place of Jake Wannell, the suspended Dean Evans and Pat Baldwin, who was ruled out with a calf injury.
There was also a place for young goalkeeper Jack Higgins on the Weymouth bench. McPhee slotted into the heart of the defence to replace Baldwin.
In a game that was a bit of a slow burner, the first half-chance of the contest came when Jordan Copp drove at his man and drilled across the six-yard box, a delivery which somehow missed everyone.
A sweeping ball from George Rigg then found Copp once more and, as part of a slick Terras’ move, Adam Kelly’s strike was charged down.
The Terras then nearly managed to draw first blood as Josh Grant latched onto a defensive mistake by Jamie Anton and, after Grant took the ball past the visiting keeper, his shot was blocked on the line by Tom Ward, who had raced back to cover.
Saints’ winger Isaac Galliford then showed his credentials from set-pieces for the visitors, who had been fairly quiet up until that point.
His dangerous ball in from a free-kick was well held by Weymouth player-manager Jason Matthews.
The Terras then carved out a chance between two former Frome men.
Ex-Robin Mark Cooper had advanced from full-back and cut the ball into the path of Thomson, whose side-foot finish failed to hit the target. Saints’ skipper Matt Mitchell-King then glanced over from a corner to end the first half.
Following the interval, visiting midfielder Nathan Frater momentarily got the better of Cooper down the right and found striker Ryan Hawkins, who failed to get a shot away when well placed.
Kelly was then flattened by Mitchell-King as he looked to counter, the latter was booked for his protests after the foul by referee Simon Knapp.
The Saints then started to get slightly on top around the hour mark as Jack Wilkinson crossed for Frater from the left but he failed to gather on the edge of the six-yard box and the chance went begging.
Copp then came within inches of adding to his tally for the campaign when he was teed up by Grant, with a strike the hosts thought took a deflection on its way past a post.
Looking for more impetus, Tim Sills and Mark Molesley were then introduced in place of Lowes and Grant for Weymouth and Cooper must have thought he had scored moments later.
He fired at goal after Copp’s corner was flicked to the back post, but the effort was deflected out of harm’s way.Hawkins then drilled straight at Matthews after a slight lapse in the Terras’ backline. N
New man Thomson was then replaced by Conor Jevon and, two minutes later, the Terras’ fell behind.
Just seconds after striker Hawkins received treatment following a strong challenge from Cooper, he was back on his feet to pounce on a loose pass and set up Tom Meechan to smash home.
But the Terras kept plugging away and just two minutes from time, they grabbed what was a deserved a share of the spoils.
After Kelly was cleaned out by Brett Longden on the edge of the area, Rigg’s free-kick was put into the net by McPhee to make it 1-1.
And, although a draw was probably a fair result, Matthews’ men could have even won it in stoppage time as Jevon claimed the ball in the midfield and, as the Terras broke, Copp produced a stinging effort that was beaten away to ensure the Saints came away with a point.