Canaries cruise to win against shot-shy Weymouth
WEYMOUTH’S run without a win stretched to four league games as they were out-gunned by high-flying Hitchin Town at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The visitors, who struck either side of the interval to take home three points, were good value for their win on an afternoon to forget for Jason Matthews’ men.
Terras’ boss Matthews, who had labelled the contest as “must-win” in the build-up, made four changes to the starting XI that drew at Paulton Rovers last time out, and they were four big calls.
Club captain Stewart Yetton was again dropped to the bench, as was Adam Kelly.
In came AFC Bournemouth loanee Sam Surridge, who was brought into the starting XI for the first time, and striker Ben Thomson.
The returning Pat Baldwin took the armband as he replaced Chris McPhee at centre-half. George Rigg also came in for Billy Lowes.
Hitchin, unbeaten since the end of November in all competitions, named full-back Kane Smith in their line-up.
He had been on trial with West Bromwich Albion following the Canaries’ midweek win over Bedworth United.
With representatives from Poole Town in attendance, who saw their game at Stratford called off, the contest got underway with Matthews making a comfortable save inside the opening two minutes.
Hitchin’s Callum Donnelly then blazed over from a Canaries’ corner following a flick on from frontman Robbie Burns and a free-kick from deep was then tipped over by Matthews after it was touched on.
And on 16 minutes, the Terras fell behind out of virtually nothing.
Matthews, who had raced out to deal with a ball in the left channel, saw his clearance run straight into the path of Matt Lench, who managed to fire home from all of 35 yards to put his side ahead.
Tempers then flared as Weymouth’s Ben Thomson flew into a challenge on full-back Josh Bickerstaff and, after some pushing and shoving from both sides, earned himself a caution.
With the Terras struggling to get going, Thomson and Surridge then combined with the latter’s attempt to find Chris Shephard snuffed out.
Surridge then lost his footing when placed in a good area and Thomson received treatment after picking up a knock.
At the other end Matthews flew to his left to deny the Canaries after Calvin Brooks had lost his footing at a key moment and some magical defending from Mark Cooper then denied the Canaries a second just short of the break.
As the visitors broke free, the Weymouth full-back slid in to hack the ball off the line and got up rapidly to block on the follow up to somehow keep the deficit to just one.
Following the break, Smith then surged into the box and forced a corner for the visitors and the Terras continued to struggle to get going.
Hitchin’s Jonny McNamara, who caused problems throughout the afternoon, then forced Matthews to save with his legs as he burst forward on the counter.
The first real glimpse of a chance for the Terras came on 57 minutes. A well-timed challenge from Dean Evans allowed Surridge to break clear on the right. He found Shephard, whose deflected strike flew just wide.
Kelly was then introduced in place of Rigg on the hour as the Terras looked to get back into the game but they continued to be limited on opportunities.
Yetton came on in place of Surridge as a flurry of Weymouth corners were comfortably dealt with by their visitors.
Shephard got the chance to showcase his skills from a free-kick after Kelly was felled on the edge of the box. He forced Hitchin keeper Charlie Horlock to palm the ball over the top – this was Weymouth’s first shot on target.
But it was a foul at the other end that was to be a pivotal moment in the game.
Weymouth’s Evans fouled his man on the edge of the area and up stepped Canaries’ replacement Alasan Ann to drive the ball in on 78 minutes.
And as much as they huffed and puffed, the Terras were left to ponder drawing a blank at home as Hitchin cruised to the finish and extended their own push for promotion.