Wannell’s winner earns Weymouth a vital victory
PRESSURE? What pressure?
Jason Matthews has admitted his side had given themselves a lot do to make the play-offs in recent weeks, but if tonight’s performance against Leamington is anything to go by, they have a chance of pulling promotion out the bag.
The Terras put in a stellar display to keep themselves in the hunt and record back-to-back home wins. Jake Wannell’s headed goal on 64 minutes proving the difference against fellow promotion-chasers Leamington.
The big team news from a Terras’ perspective was the return of striker Stewart Yetton to the hosts’ starting XI. He came into the squad to replace Tim Sills, who dropped to the bench. Calvin Brooks did however keep the captain’s armband.
Leamington went into the contest knowing that a victory against the Terras would help their play-off ambitions no end, as well as still giving them hopes of pursuing the league title.
The Brakes included Sam Austin, scorer of three goals in a week against Dorchester Town last month, as one of the danger-men in their line-up. Former St Neots man and powerful striker Ben Mackey was also in the away side’s ranks.
The first half-chance of the contest came on seven minutes as full-back Richard Taundry’s free-kick from deep was met by Mackey, but, with his back to goal, he flicked the ball harmlessly over the bar.
Weymouth’s Mark Molesley then had the hosts’ first attempted effort but, after his powerful run, he blazed high and wide. Jordan Copp forced the first save from Tony Breeden in the Brakes’ goal which was comfortably gathered.
The main talking point of a fairly subdued opening 20 minutes then came as the Terras had what looked like a strong shout for a penalty turned down by referee Graham Pearce.
A neat turn from Molesley allowed him to spread the ball out wide to Copp. He fizzed a pass into George Rigg, who went down after a neat first touch in the box and appeared to be caught, but the match official was having none of it.
Molesley then struck a daisy-cutter that was well gathered by Breeden as the sides continued to trade blows.
Leamington’s Austin showed his ability, as he raced forward for the away team on the counter, twisted and turned away from two defenders, and curled a shot just wide of the post.
With Weymouth looking to get their noses in front before the break, Rigg then released a rasping strike on the volley as the ball fell to him on the edge of the box from a half-cleared corner, and saw the effort well kept out.
The Terras’ ramped up the pressure on their opposition soon after the break with a Dean Evans header that was stabbed away to safety, and Copp going close after linking up with Ben Thomson moments later.
A chance for Wannell, up from centre-half to attack a cor ner, then went begging as he failed to connect when seemingly unmarked in the Brakes’ six-yard box.
Brakes’ replacement Rob Ogleby, who had replaced Mackey at the break, showed his pace to race on to a ball over the top and force a save from Matthews at the other end.
But the Terras, who had been on top in the second period, got their reward on 64 minutes. After Ashley Wells was felled in a dangerous area, Copp delivered a menacing free-kick onto the head of Wannell, who powered a headed effort past Breeden to send the home fans wild.
Holding the lead, the Terras then introduced Chris Shephard in place of Molesley.
Thomson then went close to adding a second, only to see his clever strike from inside the area cleared away off the line.
Scorer Wannell was then given a warm ovation by the home fans as his night’s work was done, he was replaced by Pat Baldwin with just eight minutes left. Thomson then went close to heading home a free-kick which would have settled the game.
Visiting keeper Breeden was then lucky to stay on the field after a kamikaze venture out of his goal and a rash challenge on Thomson only earned him a booking but it was not to matter as Weymouth held on for a victory which effectively kept their league campaign alive.