Weymouth surge past Hitchin Town for victory
WEYMOUTH warmed up for the play-offs with a solid 3-0 victory against Hitchin Town in their Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division clash.
Calvin Brooks chipped over the onrushing Hitchin goalkeeper Michael Johnson to send the packed Bob Lucas Stadium into rapturous applause in the 59th minute before Abdulai Baggie and Brandon Goodship added gloss to the scoreline.
Despite the victory results elsewhere meant that the Terras finished fifth in the table and face a trip away to King’s Lynn Town in their play-off semi-final next week.
Weymouth made two changes to the side that won 3-2 away at Kings Langley in their last match with Ashley Wells and Josh Carmichael coming in for Charlie Davis and Josh Wakefield.
Hitchin made four changes as Trey Charles, Patrick Tshikala, Jonny McNamara and Kieran Barnes came in for Kevin Byrne, James Budden, Matthew Spring and Connor Vincent after their 3-0 loss to Hereford in midweek.
The match started slowly as both sides struggled to break the other down and create clear-cut chances.
Callum Buckley created a good opportunity for the home side five minutes in with a free-kick that was swung into the box but over the head of Thiago Caze da Silva and went out for a corner.
Soon after it was Hitchin’s turn to swing in a free-kick through Jonny McNamara but it was easily collected by Weymouth goalkeeper Will Dennis.
The Terras then had two penalty shouts inside 10 minutes, as Ben Thomson went down in the box under a challenge from Brett Donnelly.
Minutes later Thomson again got into the box but the ball got away from him, allowing Hitchin goalkeeper Johnson to collect, with the crowd incensed by a pull on Thomson’s shirt.
The game began to heat up as Baggie then put a low ball across a vacant six-yard box.
After 23 minutes Weymouth nearly opened the scoring when, from a Buckley corner, a headed effort from Carmichael had to be cleared off the line with Stephane Zubar lurking.
The Canaries responded to the chance as McNamara forced a save from Dennis with a shot from just outside the box.
Weymouth then had another fantastic chance as a ball up to Thomson drew out Johnson but Thomson got round the stopper who went to ground, he then passed the ball to Baggie who had the ball cleared from his feet by Daniel Olaniran before he could fire in.
A mistake from Zubar allowed Donnelly a superb chance from inside the box late on in the half but he sliced his effort over the bar.
The first-half ended goalless but Weymouth came out firing in the second-half.
Six minutes into the second period Thomson was brought down 35 yards out by Canaries’ captain Josh Bickerstaff who received a yellow card, but McCarthy put his free-kick narrowly wide.
Baggie then brought a fantastic close-range stop from Johnson just eight yards out after Wells had found him with a brilliant cross.
But Brooks gave Weymouth the lead as he chipped over Johnson, who had rushed out from the Canaries’ goal, prompting massive celebrations around the Bob Lucas.
Thomson nearly doubled the lead moments later, when from a corner an effort over his shoulder prompted a great save from Johnson.
Thomson then missed from three yards out after a flowing move down the right from Brooks and Goodship had seen a shot from the former bounce in front of him with the goal gaping.
Soon after Baggie went on a strong run down the left and pulled the ball back for Goodship, who unselfishly let it roll to substitute Josh Wakefield but Hitchin were able to clear.
However, Baggie doubled the lead for Weymouth when he curled past Johnson in the 81st minute.
Goodship then celebrated his 38th goal of the season late on as from a Wakefield pass he thrashed past Johnson with a brilliant curling effort from the edge of the box.
Weymouth travel to King’s Lynn Town on Wednesday for their play-off semi-final.