WEYMOUTH boss Brian Stock praised his beaten side despite a 2-1 loss to Chesterfield in their Vanarama National League clash at the Bob Lucas Stadium.

Stock’s men – who had sat out four weeks due to Covid-19 troubles – struggled with the direct play of the Spireites but took the lead through Sean Shields’ stunning curler.

Chesterfield’s new signing Akwasi Asante then equalised via the post in the second minute of stoppage-time, spinning the game’s momentum toward the visitors.

And the six-foot-six Tom Denton popped up with what proved to be the winner on the hour, powering a header past the Terras’ impressive debutant keeper Gerard Benfield.

Victory for Chesterfield – a first for new boss James Rowe – propelled the Derbyshire side above Weymouth in the table; Stock’s men now sit 21st.

Post-match, Stock said: “Disappointed to lose the game. Full praise to the boys for all their efforts.

“I thought every single player gave it everything they’ve got. I can’t criticise that one bit considering how long they’ve been out for.

“It’s our first game in four weeks and I’m not one for excuses but they’ve left everything out on that pitch.”

On Shields’ strike, Stock felt his “fantastic strike” gave Weymouth the initiative from which they did not kick on.

“We had the upper hand and didn’t really capitalise on one or two other chances,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, we rode our luck. Gerard made a couple of great saves in the first half and it’s disappointing to concede so close to half-time.

“The message at half-time was to try and stay compact, try and deal with their direct play and unfortunately we didn’t stop the cross on both occasions.

“When you’re conceding crosses in and around those sorts of areas with Denton in the box you’re asking for trouble.”

In an almost personal battle, Benfield brilliantly denied Asante – who followed Rowe to Chesterfield from Gloucester City – on three occasions.

Benfield, who joined Weymouth from Salisbury in the summer, made his debut after number one Jack Bycroft missed out with a dislocated finger.

“I was delighted with Gerard,” Stock added. “Not only that, it’s hard being a number two.

“Jack Bycroft’s come in and done terrific. Gerard’s had to be his understudy and it’s probably the hardest position to try and motivate a number two goalkeeper knowing they’re not going to play.

“When we found out Jack dislocated his finger on Friday – and fortunately didn’t break it – it was an opportunity for Gerard to come in and play.

“There were a couple of doubts because he didn’t come in and train on Thursday due to injury and during the game he had a problem with his knee.

“I’m just delighted by the fact that he played through the pain and saw the game out.”

Asked if he was disappointed by Weymouth’s number of chances compared to Chesterfield’s, Stock said: “I would agree with that.

“When you look at the corners and set-pieces they’re a very tall side. We tried to utilise one or two movements and they defended their box very well.

“Given their height and threat aerially I felt they capitalised on one or two mistakes from us.”

Dorset Echo

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