Two-goal Thomson fires Weymouth to victory over Stratford Town
BEN Thomson’s second-half double ensured Weymouth recorded back-to-back home victories with a crucial win over Stratford Town.
The Terras’ hitman, hailed earlier in the week as the best striker in the Evo-Stik Southern premier Division by boss Jason Matthews, popped up to turn a pulsating contest, in which Weymouth rode their luck at times, on its head at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
Youngster Kyle Clinton was brought in on a work experience loan from Southampton for the Terras ahead of kick-off and there was also a spot back in the squad for attacking midfielder Cameron Brown, who had featured for the club at Frome Town earlier this season.
Clinton came straight into the starting XI in place of defender Calvin Brooks, who was out of the team through injury. Jake Wannell missed out through illness.
There were places among the hosts’ substitutes for midfielder Luke Winsper, who had been called back into the fold after impressing during the Dorset Senior Cup semi-final win over Dorchester and Chris Shephard, who had recovered from a back problem.
Stratford went into the contest following a goalless draw at Bideford the previous week and sat 17th in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division prior to kick-off. They fielded Emmit Delfouneso, brother of former Aston Villa man Nathan in their starting XI.
And with just six minutes on the clock, it was the away side that struck first.
Stratford’s Jamie Sheldon was felled by Ashley Wells inside the area and referee Mark Russell had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Up stepped Town’s Richard Gregory, who confidently converted to give his side the advantage.
With the away team looking lively inside the opening 15 minutes, Stratford’s Jack Roberts capitalised to pick the pocket of Jordan Copp. He surged forward from midfield and found the side netting.
The Terras’ had to wait until just less than 20 minutes gone to make something happen in an attacking sense.
George Rigg took aim from a free-kick in a dangerous area but scuffed wide and moments later, Stewart Yetton failed to capitalise on a mistake from Town skipper Liam Francis and side-footed straight back to Stratford keeper Andy Kemp.
A slick piece of skill from Mark Molesley then allowed him to strike at goal with an effort that clipped the woodwork – Kemp looked beaten but the Terras remained without a goal.
The home side continued to heap pressure on the Town defence and must have been left wondering how they had not scored with 35 minutes gone.
After Thomson was denied and Molesley worked Kemp on the rebound, just a minute later, Yetton’s cushion header allowed Rigg to hit a sweet volley inches wide.
At the other end, the visitors then had two golden chances to double their lead. Matthews was out smartly to deny striker Tyrone Fagan and, from the resulting corner, Fagan was allowed time at the back post to lift the ball back across goal and onto the bar.
Following the break, as the Terras committed bodies forward, Stratford should have been two up.
On the counter, new man Clinton was flattened by Fagan, who headed to Gregory. He rounded Matthews and somehow missed the target with the goal gaping.
Shephard was then introduced in place of Copp to mark his return from injury and Rigg fizzed a strike just wide for the Terras.
Stratford then could have been out of sight and Fagan possibly should have had a two-minute brace. He blazed over from inside the six-yard box and headed off target from crosses delivered from either flank.
And the visitors were then punished.
Shephard clipped a delightful ball into the path of Thomson, who confidently did the rest to finish well make it 1-1.
The Terras’ frontman then added a second as he struck again with 76 minutes gone to turn the game on its head, pouncing on a loose ball from a corner and drilling the ball into the net.
Thomson was given a rousing ovation from the home fans as we was replaced by Tim Sills but the home side were still living dangerously.
A routine ball was not dealt with and Town substitute Simeon Tulloch should have done better but failed to hit the target from the edge of the box.
The visiting bench then saw pleas for another penalty waved away as Cooper and Dior Angus chased a ball inside the Terras’ area.
Tempers then flared in what was a feisty closing to the contest but Weymouth held firm to record a big victory in their push for the play-offs.