Match report by Jack Webb
Weymouth produced a second-half comeback against 10-men Tonbridge Angels to earn a point in a 1-1 draw on Saturday at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The goal came from Dan Roberts, whose header in the 66th minute came after a short period of lively events which ultimately decided the game.
In fact Roberts’ equaliser came from a free-kick, which had been awarded after Ben Swift was sent off for lunging at namesake forward Ben Thomson down the left-hand side.
The string of incidents had all begun following an impressive save from newcomer Callum Smalley, who was somehow able to prevent Jamie Fielding doubling his side’s lead with a close-range header.
Smalley’s stop appeared to be a key turning point within the game.
Few could have argued that the visitors, in the lead since Sean Shields’ eighth-minute free-kick, were in the driver’s seat for the opening hour of the match.
However, once Roberts had equalised, the Terras would take control, Tonbridge finding themselves on the back foot.
Manager Bobby Wilkinson said on Wednesday that he was hoping his side would reach eight points out of a possible 12 with a win yesterday.
Whilst his players were unable to clinch victory, they have still managed to extend their unbeaten league run to four games, a feat not achieved since before his appointment in September last year.
ANGELS DRAW FIRST BLOOD
The line-up from the hosts was notable for the absences of both first-choice goalkeeper Gerard Benfield and top-scorer Ezio Touray.
In place of Benfield stood under-23s shot-stopper Smalley, who had not played higher than the NINTH tier of English football before kick-off.
The young keeper’s first task of the game would be to collect the ball out of his own net.
This came following a curling free-kick from former Weymouth winger Shields eight minutes in, after Brandon Goodship was judged to have fouled Jernade Meade approx 25 yards from goal.
Initially, the Terras had looked the brighter side, Joel Rollinson hitting the post just three minutes before the match’s opener.
However, the first goal of the game resulted in growing confidence from the visitors over the next over the following 10 minutes, Swift heading goalscorer Shields’ cross over the bar.
Newcomer Smalley appeared to be targeted during this period, the opposition surrounding him in large numbers whenever he was forced to collect the ball.
The keeper would be tasked with making numerous saves within the first half, many of which also came from efforts outside of the box.
But despite Tonbridge having the lion’s share of the opportunities, it would be Weymouth presented with a golden chance just before the break.
Angels goalkeeper Jonathan Henly, having had virtually nothing to do all half, managed to parry Rollinson’s shot for a corner.
For Wilkinson and his side, this was a sign that the game would still be all to play for after halftime.
The second half began with some impressive attacking intent from the hosts, Howe seeing his cross blocked after a period of fast build-up play seven minutes after the break.
However, Smalley would remain the busier of the two goalkeepers, punching Jordan Higgs’ effort clear just two minutes later.
And then came the match’s liveliest period.
Following Smalley’s most impressive save of the game, the keeper launched a long throw down to the other end of the pitch.
Moments later, Swift would receive his marching orders for a reckless challenge on Thomson, who had made a heavy tackle on Swift just seconds earlier.
The defender, who could have doubled his side’s lead in the first half, appeared to have made no attempt to win the ball.
Now having an extra-man advantage, The Terras’ fortunes would further increase following Roberts’ equaliser.
The forward’s header, which came from Elliott Bolton’s free-kick, went in off the post, ultimately leaving no chance for Henly to make a save.
This time it would now be the visitors having to defend.
Weymouth would appeal for a penalty 10 minutes before the end of regular time, the Terras insisting that captain Tom Bearwish was pulled back by Scott Wagstaff.
The referee’s decision to allow play to continue was uncharacteristic that afternoon, the official proving no-nonsense with perceived time-wasting, handing out yellow cards to Angels players Gard and Shields for the offence.
But, despite the penalty appeal, the visitors were able to cling on, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
After the game, Wilkinson described the outcome as a “good point.”
“I’m pleased with the second half. I thought my boys put in a brilliant shift.”
After yesterday’s draw, his side have the chance to extend their unbeaten league run to five games against Eastbourne Borough next Saturday.