O’Connell late winner torpedoes Tudors

Keelan O’Connell’s 94th-minute winner against Hemel Hempstead Town completed an incredible comeback resulting in a 4-3 win last Saturday at the Bob Lucas Stadium.

The super-sub won the game by coolly slotting past James Taylor after fellow introduction Ezio Touray played him through.

Touray himself also proved to be a huge impact, bringing us level in the 70th minute after being two goals down.

Before that, our winning streak looked to be coming to an end after Kaylen Hinds and Bayley Brown put The Tudors in front.

However, our supreme comeback now extends our run of victories to four games.

Our relegation fears now appear to be something of a distant memory as we sit 14th in the National League South table, closer to the play-offs than the bottom four by SEVEN points.

For Bobby Wilkinson, who says he always “thinks upwards,” this will be a sign for him that our team is continuing to head in the right direction.

Wilkinson made two changes for the game, bringing in newcomer Harry Jones and Jordon Thompson for Teddy Howe and the injured Calvin Brooks respectively.

Besides the swapping of those sets of players, the team remained the same, looking to build on from their win away at Dartford the previous week.

Yet it was the visitors with the first clear-cut chance.

It was perhaps one they should have put away, had Michael Folivi not fired over the bar after four minutes from just a few yards out.

The Hemel forward found himself stretching following a flick-on to the near-post, with his attempt at goal somehow flying over the bar.

We were still unable to trouble Taylor when George Williams had a chance at goal just before the half-hour mark, after curling his strike towards Gerard Benfield.

His chances of scoring, however, were thwarted when new recruit Jones managed to get a leg to his shot, taking the ball behind for a corner.

Our first chance came barely a minute later when Brandon Goodship had just about enough space in the box to aim a strike at Taylor.

However, perhaps uncharacteristic of his form recently, he was unable to give us the lead, Taylor instead holding firm.

Though the next big chance would, once again, fall to the hosts, this time after 38 minutes when Montel McKenzie caused Leo Hamblin to fall over with some impressive stepover work.

The Hemel defender may have given the visitors the lead had he not hit the side netting.

Goodship then had another chance right before stoppage time when Malachi Linton played him through.

With only Taylor in front of him, our usual goal-machine was outdone by some brave goalkeeping, the visitors’ shot-stopper rushing out of goal and stopping Goodship’s strike with his feet.

The chances from both sides suggested that a goal would come before the break.

It did.

Unfortunately, though, Hemel would end the half in the lead, with Hinds opening the scoring.

The forward was left with the simple task of tapping home after Folivi hit the post, ensuring that the Tudors headed down the tunnel 1-0 ahead.

The second half looked to prove even better for the away side when Brown doubled their lead after 53 minutes.

It all began when Wiliams delivered a dangerous cross from the right-hand side, forcing Benfield to make a close-range save when Josh Hill got his foot to the cross.

However, the ball landed in front of Brown who, like Hinds in the first half, had the simple task of tapping home.

Wilkinson made his first substitutions two minutes later, bringing on O’Connell and Touray for Parsons and Jones respectively.

These would end up being two changes to remember come the end of the game.

These changes proved successful just two minutes later when Touray provided a pass across the box to Linton, following Goodship’s delicate long-ball.

Linton then made no mistake scoring his first Weymouth goal to half the goal deficit.

It would only be another 12 minutes before Touray was involved again, this time being on the scoresheet to make it 2-2.

The super-sub once again found himself on the end of a Goodship long-ball, coolly slotting past Taylor to draw us level.

However, it wasn’t long before The Tudors took the lead again.

Folivi, making up for his first-half miss, was able to poke Hill’s cross past Benfield, whose stop wasn’t quite enough to keep the ball out.

But, despite falling behind once more, our never-say-attitude was prevalent for a third occasion just six minutes before stoppage time.

Goalscorer Linton was now the provider, lifting an awkward cross over the heads of the Hemel defence, towards Goodship, who headed past a helpless Taylor to make it three goals apiece.

With seven minutes being added on by the referee, there was enough time for both sides to find a winner.

Thankfully, O’Connell would be Saturday’s hero.

Fellow-sub Touray would be the one to play him through, although O’Connell would need to take an extra first-touch to run beyond Williams and leave only Taylor in his way.

Luckily, our winger managed to do just that and the rest, as they say, is now history.

Match report
by Jack Webb

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