Weymouth Women 2
Howard 38’ Own Goal 88’
Ilminster Ladies Reserves 1
Report: James Spring
Weymouth rounded off their pre-season campaign with a tough test against Ilminster Reserves at the Marsh on Tuesday night.
The visitors included a couple of first-team players in their line-up, including goalkeeper Charlotte Johnson. And she would prove to be quite a thorn in the Terras’ side on the night.
She was called into action as early as the 4th minute, holding onto Sibley’s shot from the edge of the D.
Weymouth continued their bright start and forced another save from Johnson on 11 minutes. Shakira Howard laid the ball off for Sophie Webber-Green and her first-time shot was well held by Johnson.
Next up it was captain Charlie Wilson’s turn to be frustrated by the away stopper. She saw a curling effort from 20 yards tipped around the post, before Beth Barnard-Irons fired over the bar from the resulting corner, as the Terras piled on the pressure.
Ilminster gradually began to gain a foothold in the contest although they never threatened the Weymouth goal.
On 34 minutes Tasha Sibley had an effort tipped over the bar as Johnson continued to frustrate the hosts.
Katie Wootton was brought into the action and she soon began to cause Ilminster plenty of problems down the right-wing. She showed great tenacity to win possession from the full-back and cross the ball to Howard who had her effort held by Johnson in goal.
But on 38 minutes the two would contrive again to finally give the hosts the lead their dominance had deserved. Some good play down the right saw Wootton get to the by-line to keep the ball in play. She pulled it back for Shakira Howard who had the simple task of tapping it home at the front post for 1-0.
Beth Barnard-Irons then saw a long-range effort well held by the goalkeeper, as Weymouth went into the break a goal to the good.
But they would suffer a nightmare start to the second half. Goalkeeper Kate Osment had virtually been a spectator throughout the first half, but just 3 minutes after the restart she received a back-pass. The Ilminster striker charged down her attempted clearance and the ball fell kindly for the striker to prod the loose ball in virtually on the line to equalise.
Despite the setback, Weymouth’s heads didn’t drop, and on 55 minutes they almost retook the lead when Howard ran onto Sibley’s ball over the top of the defence. The goalkeeper came out to narrow the angle and Howard could only shoot across the face of goal.
Shortly after Lily Beasley used her pace to run away from the right full-back, but she could only fire over the bar.
Just after the hour mark, Ilminster came close to taking the lead themselves when they were awarded a free kick on the corner of the box. The striker went for goal and saw her powerful strike cannon off the crossbar and away to safety.
Next, it was Wootton’s turn to be left frustrated by the visiting goalkeeper. She won possession midway in Ilminster’s half and raced down the wing. Howard and Beasley raced into the box in support, but Wootton took it on herself and her effort from a tight angle was well saved.
The chances continued to come and go. Shakira Howard tried to curl one into the right-hand corner from the left corner of the box but it was wide of the mark.
Then Emma Potter went on a charge through the middle of the pitch, skipping past several defenders before forcing Johnson into a sharp save at her near post.
On 83 minutes Weymouth must have started to believe it wasn’t going to be their night. Wilson played a brilliant ball out wide for Howard who crossed it to the unmarked Sibley in the middle of the box. She hit a powerful first-time shot that looked destined for the top corner, but Johnson pulled off a simply sensational diving save to deny the hosts.
3 minutes later she was on hand again to deny Beasley, but from the resulting corner, Weymouth got the stroke of good fortune their dominance had warranted.
Howard sent a teasing delivery in and the defender at the front post could only flick the ball on. It looped over everyone and landed in the far corner for 2-1.
There was still time for Johnson to frustrate Weymouth once more. As Weymouth looked to kill the game off from the restart, Howard had her effort pushed back out. It fell to Beth Barnard-Irons who hit it first time on the rebound, but Johnson was there again to move the save.
That double save almost proved pivotal, as with the last action of the game Ilminster broke with a 3 on 2, but Kate Osment was on hand to make a solid save low down at her near post to seal the win for Weymouth.
It was a thoroughly entertaining performance from Weymouth. They played some excellent attacking football but were also extremely well organised defensively. They’ll be pleased with the progress that’s been made in pre-season and will go into the league campaign on a high.
Their season gets underway next Sunday when they host Shaftesbury.