Weymouth 2 Salisbury FC 1
Evo-Stik South Premier Division South
Tuesday, 20 November 2018
By Alec Hayter
It's a long time since I've had to record an "L" in my result sheet – in fact, back to 25 September – and I should not really be having to do that this morning, as in my opinion the Whites should have won this game or at the very least came home with a point. Supporters would be well advised to look at the run just ended, and regard its finish as merely the start of a new one, as if their team can maintain the level of performance shown in recent times and especially in the first half, another successful run will inevitably result.
The reasons for the reverse were that momentum was handed to the Terras just at the wrong time, that the Whites failed to score more than once in a dominant first half, and a little bit of slackness when pushing forward caused a breakaway opportunity which Weymouth gleefully accepted with a couple of minutes remaining.
Salisbury's play during the first half restricted the home side to just two chances, and on both occasions Jake Hallett really did the business. A bright start saw Lewis Benson cut in from the right and hit a left foot effort which was saved by home keeper Jordan Seabright, and on 6 minutes Pablo Haysham crossed from the left but Zack Kotwica could only head wide of the mark from 12 yards.
The first Hallett action came two minutes later when he made what is for him a regulation save low to his left from Jake McCarthy, but the Whites resumed the attack and duly took the lead after a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Seabright which caused Lloyd Thomas to go between the sticks on 13 minutes. His first duty was picking the ball out of the net as Haysham shot under him from a Benson pullback.
Pablo Haysham, who opened the scoring against Weymouth. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Six minutes later Benson fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal for no reward, and just after the half-hour it could have been "game over" from another Benson cross when Kotwica blasted the ball over from close range. Although I was under the impression that the assistant had raised his flag, saving face for the striker, seemingly this was not the case, although the confusion apparent after the event as to whether it was a goal-kick or free kick helped no-one.
Hallett then excelled again four minutes before the end of normal time, somehow touching a rasping drive onto the bar when most keepers would have been beaten. The ball cannoned off the woodwork out to Brandon Goodship who netted but was correctly adjudged offside. In time added on at the end of the first half Elliot Wheeler was foiled by Sa's desperate smothering of the ball right on his goal-line, with appeals for the ball having crossed that line falling on deaf ears.
The Whites thus had a slender but deserved advantage, which should have been greater, at the break.
As all Salisbury supporters at the game will know, and there were plenty of them giving superb vocal support, the Terras were then handed a much-needed lifeline. Ben Thomson fired narrowly over the top, and behind the goal the Weymouth crowd oooed and aahed in disappointment at the miss, but referee Evans obviously saw something that neither the crowd nor the Weymouth players did, and pointed to the spot to everybody’s surprise. The absence of neither appeals from Weymouth players about a foul nor reaction from the crowd behind the goal I believe says it all, and Goodship made no mistake from the spot. There had been plenty of protests from Salisbury players as there appeared to have been nothing wrong with Matt Partridge's tackle. A video will prove, one way or another but it’s too late now.
Weymouth's tails were up and McCarthy put a 22 yard effort over the top on 52 minutes when he might have done better, whilst, at the other end, a strangely subdued Tom Whelan, (probably subdued because of an incredible number of unpunished fouls on him during the game), disappointingly sent a 20 yarder at Thomas.
Just after the hour another dangerous ball, this time across the Salisbury box from Thomson, went unfinished, and on 76 minutes Jake Wannell stopped another Weymouth effort on the line as the home side went for the win.
In spite of the home side's pressure, Salisbury still continued to play their football but 3 minutes before the end, and following their own freekick, they lost possession and the ball was moved swiftly upfield via ex-Salisbury Abdulai Baggie into the path of Thomson. He managed to get clear but was nearly thwarted in his attempt by Hallett who got something on the ball but could not prevent it looping over him and into the empty net. That was cruel on the keeper, and for all of the team, which, at the very least, had deserved a point. On 88 minutes, with the Whites again pressing, Wannell turned the last defender in the box and sent in a decent effort but unfortunately Sa was equal to it.
For me the evening was ruined as much by the way the game was conducted as by the result. The referee unsuccessfully tried to avoid showing cards, and that is often very commendable as the game can flow. It's a difficult skill and one which, in my opinion, has yet to be mastered by Mr Evans, as in the absence of cautions there were still many lecture stoppages, which of course are disruptive. Showing cards at a very late stage seemed pointless, as by that time the horse had bolted. In a game such as this earlier pro-active action would have avoided later events, to everyone’s advantage, but the referee, by inaction, put himself in an impossible situation.
If the noisy celebrations in the Weymouth dressing room were anything to go by they were delighted and possibly relieved to get the points. They, like everyone else, should be well aware that nothing was settled in terms of the league title, and neither Taunton nor ourselves are likely to consider that it's all over. The Whites can be confident in their own abilities to maintain their challenge.
Next up is of course the FA Trophy game on Saturday against East Thurrock and further success in the competition may well be on the cards, especially if the tremendous travelling support seen at Weymouth can be repeated and extended with a great crowd to get behind the team. Following that game however, and subject to any replay, there is a difficult game at Taunton the following Wednesday, when your support will again help against a side who are probably better than last night's opponents, so please try and get to both up please try and get to both games and support the Whites.
Weymouth: Seabright (Thomas 13), Brooks, Buckley, Zubar, Sherring, Carmichael (Ngalo 82), Wakefield, McCarthy, Thomson, Goodship (Rose 90), Baggie.
Subs not used: Sa, Baker.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing (Hopper 90), Wheeler, Whelan, Partridge, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Kotwica (Fitchett 70), Shephard (Mullings 72), Haysham.
Subs not used: Sommerton, Hillson .
Attendance: 1006 Referee : A.Evans (Trowbridge)