IN what has been a 12 months of extreme highs and lows for Terras’ fans, a solidarity seems to have come to club as we reach 2016.

This time last year, the Terras’ were sitting pretty, joint top on points at the summit of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division and favourites for the title.

Fast forward to now and, although Weymouth are in the midst of the chasing pack to catch red-hot leaders Poole Town, manager Jason Matthews is confident that he has built a side with the nous and experience to last the course this time round.

After defeating Dorchester Town at the Avenue to seal a league double on Boxing Day 2014, January signalled the start of the Terras’ fall from grace in their quest for the league crown.

Despite the signing of Calvin Brooks on a permanent deal from Yeovil, Weymouth suffered four defeats in five league outings, a run which meant they slipped back into the chasing pack.

A key fixture that defined the club’s second half of the campaign then came in February as a second-half blitz from Poole Town at Tatnam meant the Terras suffered a 4-0 defeat, a loss Matthews admitted was “tough to take”.

Following that reverse, full-back Ashley Wells insisted he was out to silence his critics, but picked up a red card in the clash with Redditch United just days later – a 5-1 thumping at the hands of Corby Town then followed.

Both Dean Evans and Neil Martin were added to give the squad some impetus during the month, but results continued to stutter.

In March, Matthews celebrated turning 40, but saw his birthday bash at the Bob Lucas Stadium dampened as party poopers Dunstable Town snatched a 2-2 draw out of virtually nowhere just past the hour mark.

With his side searching to re-ignite their form, Matthews was also rocked by the sudden departure of assistant-manager Craig Laird.

Up stepped club favourite Trevor Challis to return in an advisory role to help out his close friend at the start of April, and within a number of days, Weymouth had scooped the Dorset Senior Cup. Jordan Copp held his nerve on home soil to give the Terras their first taste of the trophy in 13 years after a 1-0 win over Dorchester Town.

Come the end of the month, the Terras has slipped out of the play-off positions and needed snookers on the final day against Biggleswade to book their place in the top five.

That didn’t happen, but it took just a matter of minutes for Matthews and chairman Chris Pugsley to start working towards the following season.

Chris Shephard, Weymouth’s star man of 2014/15, was snapped up after the final game of the season on a one-year deal and more big-name signings would follow throughout the summer.

Despite Jamie Laird, Sam Poole, Steve Colwell and Alec Fiddes officially departing during May, the duo of Brooks and George Rigg were signed on new deals at the club’s presentation night and Adam Kelly was retained despite attracting interest from rival outfits.

The club then pulled off a shock coup in June as defender Pat Baldwin dropped out of the Football League from Exeter City to move into part-time football with Weymouth.

Matthews also moved to secure the services of Mark Cooper and Jake Wannell to aid their defence as well as midfielder Billy Lowes. Tim Sills was also appointed as the Terras’ new assistant-manager.

Further know-how was added to the squad in July as Mark Molesley linked up with Weymouth and chairman Pugsley spoke out to reassure Terras’ fans that captain Stewart Yetton would not be leaving the club despite interest from Truro City.

Movement on the Terras’ board was then also revealed by Echosport as it came to light that former chairman Nigel Biddlecombe was no longer a director at the club.

As well as the start of the new league campaign, the following month also marked a special occasion for the Terras, as the club celebrated its 125th anniversary on August 26. Just days later, striker Ben Thomson boosted the club’s firepower with his arrival from Frome.

Despite a pre-season friendly schedule that was hindered by fog on Portland, a waterlogged pitch at Taunton and Hamworthy United being unable to raise a side, Matthews’ men had climbed to fifth in the league table, before suffering a 1-0 derby defeat at the Avenue against Dorchester Town on Hallowe’en.

The club’s AGM in September saw Pugsley issue a statement to shareholders and supporters, giving an update on the club’s ongoing search for a new ground location.

The statement read that: “The site would, in our opinion, meet all the needs of the club, but equally importantly, provide the opportunity for a tremendous multi-sport community facility for Weymouth.”

On the field in October, a goal from Thomson meant Weymouth topped the pile after a home win over Bedworth United, the game was fittingly used to mark the club’s special anniversary.

Still sitting around the play-off places, a strong win at Merthyr Town at the start of November came at a cost for the Terras as player-manager Matthews was forced off with a heel injury, meaning captain Yetton donned the gloves in goal for the latter stages.

Matthews returned to action against Bedford Town in the FA Trophy, but has since been plagued by the problem, with a number of goalkeepers filling his shows in the meantime.
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Jordan Holmes was brought in from AFC Bournemouth on a month-long loan deal, a decision that caused uproar with fans wanting to see reserve-team keeper Steve Boore given a chance by the coaching staff. Current gloveman Andrew Dawber has since stepped between the sticks for the entirety of this month in the league.

And after their 2-2 draw in the latest edition of the Ridgeway derby, Matthews’ men will get an accurate reflection on how far they have come, when they visit Poole Town in a bid to kick off 2016 with a bang on Saturday.

Dorset Echo

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