FA Cup heartbreak for Weymouth as Dover strike late
DOVER ATHLETIC 2
Reason 82, Jeffrey 87
WEYMOUTH’S 12-year wait for an appearance in the FA Cup first round continues following this gut-wrenching final qualifying round defeat to a slick Dover outfit who stole the tie with two late strikes.
Following an even and goalless first half at the Bob Lucas Stadium, the Terras survived an early second-half onslaught before taking a dramatic lead through skipper Jake McCarthy with only 12 minutes remaining.
It looked for all the world that Weymouth would at least hang on for a replay after Dover quickly equalised through Jai Reason but they were to be left completely deflated when Anthony Jeffrey pounced on a mistake by home keeper Calum Ward to fire Dover through.
There was a major boost ahead of kick-off for the hosts as captain Josh McQuoid was deemed fit to start ahead of Lionel Ainsworth while McCarthy came back in for the injured Ollie Harfield.
The bench looked a little light though with boss Mark Molesley himself listed amongst just six substitutes that included dual-registered Ashley Wells.
The Terras more than matched their mid-table National League opponents in a highly competitive first period that saw few openings at either end.
Amazingly, what was to prove the best chance of the half came just 90 seconds in.
A terrific knock-down from Ben Thomson presented McQuoid with the opportunity to try a 30-yard lob.
Fortunately for Dover and debutant keeper Yusuf Mersin, who was well beaten, the ball rebounded back off the bar and Abdulai Baggie could only scuff a shot straight back at the keeper.
The sixth minute was a lively one as first, Ricky Modeste was adjudged offside when he stretched for a volley that was collected by home stopper Ward, but the home side then launched an attack of their own.
McQuoid held the ball up for Calvin Brooks to forge into the box but his shot across goal flew wide of the left-hand post.
Later, McQuoid was booked for a dive, Thomson had a close-range effort blocked by Mersin at his near post before Brooks produced a fabulous block at the other end to deny Reason.
Just before the interval Modeste put Inih Effiong through but he drove just off target moments before Yemi Odubade hammered a low volley that Mersin did well to scoop up.
The visitors looked far more threatening after the switch and the impressive Nassim L’Ghoul blasted in an early effort from 25 yards that had to be palmed away by Ward.
Another chance saw Effiong centre to L’Ghoul who rushed his opportunity and volleyed well over.
The hosts’ first foray forward only came in the 62nd minute after Reason saw yellow for pulling down McQuoid.
The resulting free-kick saw McCarthy drive a daisy cutter from 30 yards that Mersin got down well to gather.
An even better chance then presented itself as Jordan Ngalo’s pinpoint centre saw Stephane Zubar strangely miss the target with a headed attempt.
A minute later though Dover squandered the best chance of the game as Reason clipped in a cross that Josh Passley nodded straight at Ward from point-blank range.
And it looked like the Whites would pay for that profligacy seconds later when the Terras finally opened the scoring.
Persistence paid off for McCarthy after the visiting defence failed to complete a clearance and, after his initial shot was blocked, the home skipper showed real endeavour to steer a shot beyond Mersin inside the far post.
The home fans’ delirium was unexpectedly cut short however when, virtually out of the blue, the Whites levelled four minutes later when Reason found space to curl home a beauty from the edge of the area.
But despite fully deserving a second chance to progress, Weymouth hearts were broken three minutes from time.
Dover were laying siege on the home goal when Reason’s header across the face of goal was met by a poor missed punch from Ward and the ball fell kindly for Jeffrey who could not miss from six yards.
Terras: Ward, Wakefield, Zubar, Ngalo, McCarthy, Thomson, McQuoid (Williams 71), Baggie (Murray 89), Odubade (Ainsworth 71), Brooks, Hobson.
Subs not used: Rees, Wells, Molesley.
Dover Athletic: Mersin, Passley, Taylor, Lokko, De Havilland, Reason, Effiong, L’Ghoul (Munns 89), Modeste (Ratti 74), Rooney (Jeffrey 81), Bedford.
Subs not used: Doe, Worgan, Cumberbatch, Simpson.
Referee: Savvas Yianni (Weston-super-Mare)