Brilliant Ben Thomson helps Weymouth down Maidstone
MAIDSTONE UNITED 1
Thomson 74, 89
BRILLIANT Ben Thomson’s double handed Weymouth a thrilling late 2-1 victory at Vanarama National League South giants Maidstone United.
The Terras matched their full-time hosts throughout and were unlucky not to earn a first-half lead with Thomson and Abdulai Baggie going closest.
However, Justin Amaluzor opened the scoring in the 54th minute, steaming inside and zipping a finish into the far corner.
But the heroics of Thomson gave Weymouth victory, the forward slamming home before heading a 89th-minute winner.
Weymouth’s curtain-raising clash with the Stones marked the Terras’ first game back in the sixth tier of English football since 2010 – a wait of over nine years.
And Mark Molesley’s men were quickly into action as midfielder Jordan Ngalo fizzed an effort over the Maidstone bar in the fourth minute.
Maidstone, who were relegated from the National League last season after finishing dead last of the 24 sides, showed signs of nervousness early on as Weymouth probed for an opener.
The Stones were indebted to former Wolves and Cameroon international George Elokobi to clear the danger from a swinging Ollie Harfield delivery which nearly picked out his fellow debutant Brett Williams.
For all of Maidstone’s vigour up front, the Kent outfit’s forwards looking a constant threat, Weymouth were proving more incisive and a Baggie shot across goal was sharply dealt with by a sprawling Jake Cole in the 20th minute as Weymouth edged closer to a opener.
Maidstone then gave Weymouth’s debutant goalkeeper Calum Ward a timely reminder of their quality, forcing the young stopper into a smart save from a free-kick.
After riding out the Weymouth pressure, Maidstone began to grow into the contest as Nana Kyei crunched a header over from Sam Corne’s pinpoint cross.
Again, Weymouth were able to scythe more effectively through the home defence and might have opened the scoring in the 34th minute.
Baggie’s slaloming run unsettled the home defence before the winger presented Thomson with a glorious chance, only for the Terras’ forward to blaze over.
Seconds later, a two-on-one situation for the Terras was spoiled by a wayward pass with Williams set to pounce.
Maidstone, as they had done with the early Terras opportunities, responded quickly and Ward was alert to deny Amaluzor, who had cut inside and aimed inside the near post.
A busy first half showed no let up as Stephane Zubar speedily tackled Amaluzor to prevent the forward collecting a through ball, before Thomson span and shot at Cole.
There was still time for Iffy Allen to pick up a yellow card in an entertaining finish to the half.
Thomson had been the source of most of Weymouth’s chances in the opening period and after the forward saw his route to goal blocked, Amaluzor had a soft penalty appeal waved away.
However, the Stones’ forward would score in the 54th minute after cutting inside and thumping an effort beyond Ward’s outstretched hand.
Soon after Jake McCarthy’s effort was blocked, Yemi Odubade came on against his former club, the Weymouth striker having bagged six goals in a 30-game one-year spell at the Gallagher.
But it was his former employers who created the next chance as fleeting footwork from Saidou Khan set up Allen to fire at Ward.
Yet with 16 minutes to go, Weymouth earned a merited equaliser through the brilliance of Thomson who twisted and fired past Cole into the bottom corner to stun the hosts.
Jonny Edwards, largely a peripheral figure up top for the Stones, then slammed a 30-yard free-kick at Ward before Odubade saw an effort blocked off the line in what was becoming a crackerjack opening day encounter.
Sure enough, Thomson gave the travelling Terras faithful a day to remember, heading home through a crowd of bodies in the 89th minute to spark wild jubilation in the away support.
Weymouth were able to hold on through the final three minutes of added time to take a dramatic first win of the season at the first attempt.
Maidstone: Cole, Pennell, Elokobi, Johnson, Hoyte, Khan (Chesmain 80), Corne, Kyei, Allen (Olutade 90), Amaluzor, Edwards (Akanbi 85).
Subs not used: Lewington, Knight.
Terras: Ward, Brooks (Murray 69), Zubar, Buckley, Harfield, McCarthy, Robinson, Ngalo (Wakefield 80), Williams (Odubade 64), Baggie, Thomson.
Subs not used: Childs, Rose.